The deadline for securing a buyer for Tata Steel UK has been pushed back until after the UK’s referendum on Europe on 23 June.

Tata Steel in India, the parent of the UK business, will not be considering any offers from companies wanting to ‘cherry pick’ specific elements of the business and is concentrating instead on those looking to acquire the entire operation.

Seven prospective bids have been taken forward to the next stage of the process, according to media reports.

The current frontrunners are Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House and the management buy-out team from Port Talbot going by the name Excalibur.

Other companies in the running include Indian steelmaker JSW and – ironically – a Chinese steel producer; ironic in the sense that cheap Chinese imported steel dumped on the UK market is a key factor behind Tata Steel India’s decision to pull the plug on its UK operations.

North American steel producer Nucor, German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp and the investment firm Greybull Capital – which recently purchased Tata Steel UK’s long products business – are also in the running.

Liberty House has made no secret of its intention to transform Port Talbot’s existing BOF steelmaking process in South Wales into an EAF (electric arc furnace) operation processing scrap steel.