French authorities consider alternatives for British Steel unit

French authorities are considering different options for the Hayange rail mill, in case it is not sold to Jingye Group as part of the Chinese firm’s acquisition of British Steel, Kallanish learns from French sources.

Jingye signed a preliminary agreement to acquire all British Steel operations, but the French government needs to approve the industrial plan for the Hayange mill within the deal. Local press reports say a potential buyer is being sought for the unit in case its sale to Jingye is not approved.

When approached for comment, British Steel’s Official Receiver said: “The parties are working together to conclude a sale as soon as reasonably practicable.”

Jingye did not respond for requests for comment before deadline.

A source close to the deal says French authorities are looking for leverage in the negotiations and are nervous about selling to a Chinese company. However, it is unclear what action they can take as the Hayange plant belongs to British Steel.

Last month Hayange signed a large supply contract for bloom with Ascoval, the French steelmaking unit controlled by Greybull. Due to this contract and the fact the Hayange mill is considered strategic because it supplies rail to the national railway operator, French authorities are keeping a close eye on the transaction involving British Steel.