A leading industrial group has bought a pipe mills business from steel firm Tata, ending months of uncertainty for workers.
Liberty House said it will add around 100 jobs to the existing 140-strong workforce at two pipe mills in Hartlepool, which manufacture pipelines for gas and oil projects around the world.
Tata Steel will retain its 20-inch tube mill at the same site, where a further 270 people work.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group, said: "This is an important first step in our ambition to become a world leader in energy pipe and we are already looking at plants in other countries.
"The acquisition of this high-calibre business and its skilled workforce gives us the basis to upgrade the liquid steel production facilities we're buying at Whyalla, South Australia and our plate mills at Dalzell and Clydebridge in Scotland to make high-value-added API grade plates that can be rolled at Hartlepool to supply pipeline projects worldwide.
"This fully-integrated value chain will make us a world leader in this field and help showcase Britain's engineering prowess in supplying a world-class highly-engineered product."
Bimlendra Jha, chief executive of Tata Steel UK, added: "As a responsible seller it was important for us to find the most sustainable future for the 42 and 84-inch pipe mills.
"With this sale, Tata Steel UK completes its portfolio restructuring to focus on the strip products supply chain linked to Port Talbot."
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union, said: "Hartlepool steelworkers will welcome today's news. For well over a year, they have faced an uncertain future, but can now look ahead to making a real success of the businesses.
"All the mills at Hartlepool produce high quality steel products, used around the world. It would have been a disaster if these jobs and skills had been lost, and Community will be working with companies to ensure they are protected in the future.
"Today is a step in the right direction and further evidence that British steel making has huge potential, but to realise this we need government to bring forward a proper industrial strategy that supports jobs and our steel communities."
Unite national officer Tony Brady also welcomed the news, saying: "Today's sale completion represents a fresh start and ends a great deal of uncertainty for a world class workforce.
"It is in no small part down to their hard work and efficiency that Tata has been able to find a reputable buyer and committed to further investment in its 20-inch mill."