The British metals group Liberty House has confirmed it is submitting a bid to buy the UK assets of Tata Steel.
It is the first concrete bid since the Indian conglomerate put the loss-making business up for sale in March.
Liberty House specialises in recycling steel rather than making it from raw materials.
The management team at Tata’s giant Port Talbot plant in South Wales is also working on a buyout plan.
Keen to avoid the loss of 10,000 jobs, the British government has offered financial support to potential buyers, even saying it could take a 25 percent stake in the firm.
The steel industry throughout Europe has been hurt by cheap Chinese imports, soaring costs and weak demand.
Liberty’s Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta had been the first businessman to express an interest after Tata announced it was pulling out of the UK.
He told Britain’s Guardian newspaper: “To reform the UK steel industry, which is probably the worst in the world, is a herculean task. But I am betting on it. I’m dedicating myself 100 percent to it.”
He has previously said Port Talbot and its jobs could be saved if the giant blast furnaces were replaced with facilities to process imported slab steel into higher grade product or make steel from scrap metal rather than from iron ore.
He told the Guardian: “We could have an entirely efficient industry that is sustainable in the long term. We don’t need to make any steel, we just need to recycle it. It’s not an easy road to follow but there is a way to do it and it needs to be done.”
Liberty bought former Tata Steel plants in Scotland with government help in March. Scottish authorities had temporarily purchased two mills from Tata before selling them to Liberty.
Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Port Talbot and said any sale of Tata’s UK assets would have to cover the whole of the business.
Britain’s government has also offered help in lowering the cost of energy for steel works and with workers’ pensions to try to save the industry but says its efforts are not linked to the EU referendum on June 23.
Those campaigning to leave the bloc have seized on the crisis, accusing the EU of not doing enough to stop Chinese imports and have blamed the bloc’s rules on state aid for preventing government intervention.