Tata Steel will start the formal process of selling its UK plants, including the main Port Talbot plant, by Monday, business secretary Sajid Javid has said.
After meeting with Tata's chairman in India, Mr Javid said a number of potential buyers have expressed an interest.
Only Sanjeev Gupta, owner of commodities firm Liberty House, has publicly revealed his intention to buy Tata's UK business. Mr Gupta initially suggested he would only be willing to take on a portion of Tata's business, importantly not the Port Talbot plant. But that has now changed and he believes Liberty House can buy the business without significant job cutting the 15,000-strong workforce, although he has admitted that his plans were written "on the back of an envelope".
It is understood that with the Port Talbot plant alone losing an estimated £1 million a day, Tata wants a quick sale. Sajid Javid did not reveal a specific time scale, but said that Tata would give a "reasonable amount of time" for a sale to be completed before closing the plants.
The uncertainty comes despite unions calling for Tata to clarify its timeframe for the sale, hoping to avoid a "rushed" process.
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: "After leaving his meeting with Tata's Chairman in Mumbai, Sajid Javid phoned to brief me on his discussions.
"I welcome the fact that the secretary of state informed me of the constructive conversation he had with Tata. I am pleased that he raised those issues I had raised with him before he flew to India.
"I am encouraged to learn that Tata have committed to be a responsible seller and to allow the time we need to secure a new commercial operator."
Earlier this week, Wales First Minister Carywn Jones urged David Cameron to consider taking the plant into temporary state ownership while a suitable buyer, not just any buyer, could be found.