Tata Steel net loss narrows as domestic, European sales grow

Tata Steel
Tata Steel posts surprise loss after British pension charge
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17 May, 2017

Tata Steel Ltd posted a surprise fourth-quarter loss after the company recorded a 36 billion rupee (RM2.4 billion) charge related to the closure of its British pension plan.

The strong fourth quarter helped the business generate earnings of £526 million for the last 12 months, compared to a £52 million loss the year before, with stronger market conditions and tailwinds from the fall in the value of sterling, which makes British exports cheaper overseas.

The steel company's accounts for the year to 31 March 2017 - published on the Indian Stock Exchange today - said that after "prolonged and intense" negotiations with the BSPS Trustee, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) a deal in principle had been reached between Tata Steel UK and the BSPS Trustee. Standalone revenue rose 45.9% (y-o-y) to Rs 17,113 crore while profit rose 172% (y-o-y) to Rs 1,415 crore.

Indian steel companies such as Tata Steel are limping back to profitability after incurring losses for almost two years due to a sharp drop in worldwide prices amid a supply glut from China and muted demand in the domestic market.

Also, Tata Steel said on Tuesday that key commercial terms of a deal to spin off its giant United Kingdom pension scheme into a standalone entity and end its liabilities for the scheme have been agreed with the scheme's trustees.

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The British Steel Pension Scheme is one of Britain's largest final salary schemes with 130,000 members.

EBITDA in Europe for the last financial year was £536 million (₹4,705 crore), compared to the loss of £52 million (₹513 crore) in FY-16, due to stronger market conditions, currency tailwinds and restructuring of United Kingdom operations. It is subject to formal approval by The Pensions Regulator, but Tata said it expected to get approval shortly.

However, unions said that a year ago, when they backed Tata Steel's turnaround plan, they were assured that members of the pension fund would be given a choice between a PPF deal or a move to a new, modified scheme. Tata Steel said it spent Rs 7,700 crore on capex during the year.

"Although the PPF is an important safeguard for pension schemes generally, the Trustee believes that the BSPS has sufficient assets to offer members the potential for better outcomes by enabling them to transfer to another scheme offering modified benefits".

This new scheme must be delivered and we will be seeking further assurances to ensure that this regulated apportionment arrangement announcement leads to the choice that our members expect.


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