ONE of Britain’s oldest steelmakers, Sheffield Forgemasters, may be rescued by an arm of the Chinese state, it was claimed today.
The Sunday Times reported that an un-named Chinese state-backed steel firm is believed to be among the bidders for Forgemasters.
Responding to the report, Graham Honeyman, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters, said today: “Sheffield Forgemasters International supplies bespoke, high-technology engineered products and services to customers around the world and, despite challenging trading conditions which have affected the industry worldwide, the company remains financially stable and continues to win notable orders in defence, power generation, manufacturing and offshore sectors.
“We can confirm that we have been in discussions with a view to developing and securing new and material business and potential external investment in the company, as part of a long-term business development strategy. The terms of such discussions are confidential but updates will be given if and when they become conclusive.”
Un-named sources also told the Sunday Times that Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems may have been supporting Forgemasters with advance payments. Accountancy firm KPMG is understood to be working with Forgemasters, according to the paper.
A BAE Systems spokesman said today: “BAE Systems works closely with more than 7,000 organisations in our UK supply chain, to develop and manufacture the advanced defence and security products our customers require. Sheffield Forgemasters International is a supplier to our submarines business. The terms of our contractual relationships with our suppliers are confidential.”
A Rolls Royce spokesman told The Yorkshire Post: “We are not commenting on The Sunday Times story. In terms of what Sheffield Forgemasters does for us, we cannot go into any more detail than what you can easily find on their website.”
A KPMG spokesman declined to comment on the report.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Sheffield Forgemasters is a subcontractor in the submarine enterprise. It is the responsibility of the prime contractor to manage its supply chain, and we are pleased that they are doing so in this case.”
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “British companies in the steel sector are facing difficult commercial challenges. We are in regular contact with companies across the sector, including Sheffield Forgemasters, as they seek to overcome these challenges.”
A spokesman confirmed that Forgemasters’ turnover is around £80m, and it employs 760 staff.