London: Tata Steel is set to freeze auction of its UK steelworks while it assesses the fallout of the Brexit vote, a media report said on Sunday. The Mumbai-headquartered steel giant had announced plans to auction its Port Talbot steelworks in Wales earlier this year.

However, The Sunday Times reported that the move has been put on ice as it assesses the fallout of the Brexit vote. “The Indian giant will ‘pause’ the sale amid uncertainty over the impact of the decision to leave the EU," the newspaper quoted people aware of the matter as saying.

The board is yet to make a formal decision but is under less pressure to sell after a jump in steel prices, which has cut losses at the south Wales site, the report said. The company will reportedly stall the auction to await the outcome of a UK government deal to cut its £14 billion pension liabilities as well as talks on European Union (EU) trade deals.

The decision may come as a blow to bidders, including the Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta-led commodities trader Liberty House and management buyout firm Excalibur. The newspaper has also reported in the past that the Tata Group had already been leaning towards retaining the plant before the Brexit decision.

“The strategic review of our UK business continues. Like businesses across the UK, parties involved will be considering implications from the referendum. We remain committed to working towards the best possible outcome for our UK business," a Tata statement said. PTI

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