Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews has said he could support the potential management buyout of Tata Steel's UK operations.
The businessman, who owns the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, said he was “feeling really good” that he could fund part of the deal put forward by Steve Wilkie, the boss of Tata's Port Talbot plant.
Speaking to BBC Wales, Sir Terry said: “If it makes sensible business and the future looks really good, frankly there will be investors and we already know it.
“Potentially me too. The fact is, you first put a really good team together, then you fight in an area which has upside. So I am feeling pretty good about it.”
The Newport man added: “I believe the steel industry for one reason or another has reached a low point – price per tonne of steel is an example. That’s the time to invest, not when things are going really well. If it is at a low point, it is probably going to go up.
“So I am looking forward to a future – in particular for the steelworks in Port Talbot, I know the people there very well – that is more next generation steel.
“Right now it is power hungry. Let’s see if we can make steel in the future which is the next generation – lower power, better quality, global market. The steel industry is never going to go away. For the United Kingdom it’s a strategically important industry.”
Sir Terry is part of a consortium interested in supporting the buyout by Port Talbot managers, which includes Roger Maggs - recently appointed chair of the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone and part of mining giant Rio Tinto. Mr Maggs is believed to have committed himself to the takeover bid on a full-time basis.
He told the BBC: “I have seen it [the management buyout plan previously rejected by Tata], not in total detail, and I think it is viable.
“I think they will turn it around by the end of 2017, early 2018. I have seen these things before. This is not pie in the sky. This is hardworking, attention to detail, efficiencies that can be achieved.”
Mr Maggs also questioned the idea that Tata Steel rejected the plan, which was put forward shortly before it decide to put its UK business up for sale, on the grounds of viability.
He added: “I suspect it wasn’t just about the viability of the plan. Steel is a global material, and the price of it is influenced by global supply and demand. It’s Adam Smith. Guess what – there is too much steel and not enough demand, so that is why the price goes down. By the way, it is not the Chinese’s fault. They make the cheapest steel so of course they are going to be the last to close capacity to get the price back up.
“I think [Tata] wanted less capacity in the world. I think they wanted to close it. Now they are currently talking about selling it, but I think for them that was probably second prize. I think they wanted less steel in the world.”
Earlier, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said it could take a 25% stake in a takeover, with a support package worth hundreds of million of pounds.