Once again, as it has been over the last 20 or so years, the UK steel sector is being rescued from purdah by inward investment. The Turkish military pension fund through its subsidiary Ataer Holdings (see related article) has entered exclusive sales talks with the UK Official Receiver to acquire British Steel, the Receiver confirms to Kallanish.
Heads of an agreement to purchase British Steel have been signed, triggering a period of detailed due diligence of the company ahead of its full sale, the government office continues.
“Several bids were received for British Steel and the agreement now signed between Ataer Holdings A.S. and the Official Receiver sees the preferred buyer in exclusive talks to confirm their intention to take on the steel making business and its subsidiaries,” the Receiver says.
In a statement sent to Kallanish trade association UK Steel’s director Gareth Stace welcomed the move. “Today’s announcement is enormously positive news for British Steel, its workers, and UK manufacturing as a whole. British Steel’s production facilities in Scunthorpe and elsewhere in the North East represent one third of the UK’s steel production and are a major strategic asset to our country; their loss would leave our manufacturing, construction and infrastructure capability in a considerably poorer state,” he says.
Both the Unite and GMB trade unions have reacted to the move. Unite gives what it calls “… a cautious welcome” to the news. The GMB simply says that it is the British Steel employees who should remain the focus of any deal. “This dedicated and loyal workforce must not be an afterthought amidst all of the speculation,” the trade union says in a statement.
The Official Receiver says that it will continue looking to conclude this process in the coming weeks, “… during which time British Steel continues to trade and supply its customers as normal,” it says.
Credit must be given to the former Business Secretary in the Theresa May government, Greg Clark, on whose watch the initial moves to save British Steel were launched, Kallanish observes. Unlike his predecessor Sajid Javid who sat on his metaphorical hands and watched SSI UK fall spectacularly in 2015, Clark has been a pro-active and supportive influence in the current British Steel rescue efforts.
Clark has now returned to the parliamentary back benches under Boris Johnson, while Javid is Chancellor of the Exchequer.