British Steel is set to be saved by Turkey’s military pension fund – potentially rescuing 25,000 jobs.
Ataer Holdings, part of Turkey’s armed forces pension scheme Oyak, was today unveiled as the preferred buyer for the firm, which plunged into liquidation in May.
More than 4,000 workers are employed at British Steel’s Scunthorpe plant, with another 20,000 jobs in the supply chain.
The deal is expected to be finalised before the end of the year.
UK Steel director Gareth Stace said: “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.
“While there is much work still to be done, today’s announcement is an important stepping stone on the way to securing a sustainable future for this cornerstone of British industry.”
British Steel was placed in receivership three months ago by owners Greybull Capital.
The investment revived the famous British Steel name after buying the firm for a token pound in 2016.
However, Greybull repeatedly demanded Government bailouts – and was handed a £120million loan in April to pay an EU emissions bill.
Weeks later, its pleas for a £30million loan to rescue the company were rebuffed – forcing the dive into liquidation.
Officials have spent the last three months speaking to potential buyers – leading to today’s announcement.
Ataer already has a 50% stake in Turkey’s largest steel producer, Erdemir.
Campaigners welcomed the plan, but urged caution.
Community steelworkers’ union general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “This is an important milestone, and will be hugely encouraging to the workforce and all those connected with British Steel.
“But we should be clear this is not yet a done deal and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. We now expect to engage with Ataer to understand and scrutinise their plans for the business.”
Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley, who is secretary of Parliament’s cross-part group on steel, said: “This is great news for British Steel and the thousands of workers and their families, including 700 on Teesside, who can now have some confidence that their industry has a future.
“Whilst the coming weeks will be crucial for hammering out the detail and successfully completing a sale, the outlook is now extremely positive.”
The Mirror has been campaigning to Save Our Steel since the industry was battered by thousands of job losses and plant closures in 2015.