British Steel to open discussions with other bidders

British Steel’s Official Receiver is preparing to open discussions with other bidders, as the period of exclusive talks with Ataer Holding come to an end.

The exclusivity period with Ataer — a subsidiary of Turkey’s Oyak — to complete the sale of British Steel and its subsidiaries (excluding TSP Projects Limited, which has been sold separately) ends this week.

“While discussions with Ataer are continuing, discussions with other parties who have expressed continued and renewed interest in acquiring the whole British Steel business will now be possible,” the Official Receiver said. “I have instructed the Special Managers to engage with these additional interested parties. Diligence team members from these parties are expected to visit the company’s sites over the coming days and weeks.

“Meanwhile Ataer remains very much interested in acquiring the business and we remain in detailed discussions with them to conclude a sale,” the Receiver said. “I remain focused on achieving a sale of the business and assets of British Steel as quickly as possible, to achieve the best possible outcome for the company’s creditors. The conclusion of the exclusivity period allows us to consider all of the options available at this point in the process.”

The latest development adds to the uncertainty over the future of the company.

Liberty House Group, part of holding company GFG Alliance, has in recent days held fresh talks about buying British Steel, while Chinese steelmaker Jingye Group also approached the UK government with a fresh offer.

“This latest news only adds to their ongoing uncertainty,” Teesside-based Materials Processing Institute CEO Chris McDonald said.

“British Steel is a vital component of the UK economy, which not only supports many more supply chain jobs, but is important to the defense sector and in the creation of a low-carbon economy,” McDonald said. “Without it, this country must depend on importing its steel from abroad, which is both less secure and more environmentally damaging.”

British Steel, which went into compulsory liquidation on May 22, has about 3 million mt/year of production capacity in the UK, France and the Netherlands.

— Annalisa Villa and Cenk Can