LONDON India's Tata Steel (TISC.NS) said on Friday it would cut 900 jobs across Britain as part of a restructuring plan aimed at stemming losses in weak European markets.
The group said 580 jobs would go at its Port Talbot plant in south Wales as part of proposals to restructure its management and administrative functions. It also plans to close 12 steel finishing and processing sites in England and Wales.
"Today's proposals are part of a strategy to transform ourselves into an ‘all-weather' steel producer, capable of succeeding in difficult economic conditions," said Karl Koehler, the chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations.
Tata, which supplies steel and related services to construction, automotive and aerospace markets among others, also announced that it would re-start one of two blast furnaces at Port Talbot early next year as part of a 250 million pounds ($398.7 million) investment program.
This month the firm swung to a second quarter loss of $67 million, as weakening demand and prices in its main European market, which accounts for around two thirds of its 28 million metric ton capacity, offset a solid home performance.
The $500-billion-a-year steel industry has slowed sharply this year as moderation in China's economic growth has compounded weak demand in Europe, forcing the Mumbai-based group, to make a string of cuts in the business.
ArcelorMittal ISPA.AS, the world's largest steelmaker, recently reported a quarterly loss, while Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp (5401.T) said that profit in the second half of 2012/13 would fall by more than 50 percent from the previous year.
The Tata conglomerate, which bought Anglo-Dutch steel producer Corus for $13.1 billion in 2008, employs some 81,000 staff worldwide.
($1 = 0.6271 British pounds)
(Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Rhys Jones)