This is the second edition of our interview series with leading leaders within Tata Steel, in which they offer their perspectives on the intended joint venture between the European steel activities of Tata Steel and thyssenkrupp.
What has been happening so far in the UK during the intended joint venture (JV) process?
I’ve been part of the due diligence visits, and we’ve had a number of meetings with people from thyssenkrupp here in South Wales. They asked lots of questions, mainly about where the business is heading in terms of asset development and capital expenditure. We have also been out to thyssenkrupp and found out more about their way of doing things. I’ve been involved in previous proposed joint ventures, and the approach to this intended JV seems more rigorous than any I can remember.
How do you weigh up the advantages and challenges of the intended joint venture?
I think the benefits outweigh the challenges – and in any case, the challenges remain the same for the UK whether the JV happens or not. One of the most exciting things for me is the prospect of having a major partner and being able to learn from each other – thyssenkrupp are technically strong, which is a real opportunity.
I think they also share our view that innovation is essential to the steel industry. The market will determine how we innovate – for example, autonomous vehicles could drive demand for different steels – but the intended JV could make it easier for us to innovate, by allowing us to learn from each other and improve our production processes and products.
Another advantage is that when you create one, larger company, you don’t have to make every product in every location. You can specialise in different products in different locations, and that aligns with our strategy for the UK – because we don’t want to make every single product that we could possibly make – we continue to prioritise value over volume.
How do employees in the UK view the intended JV?
Mostly we are getting on with the day job. I don’t think there’s anything to be frightened of. I keep saying to colleagues ‘don’t get distracted, just concentrate on our own performance’, because we need to make sure the UK delivers on its commitments – the ‘Delivering Our Future’ plan.
Our job as leaders is to create the belief we will deliver our plan and be seen as a valuable part of the intended JV process.