The investment division of Turkey’s armed forces pension fund is set to takeover British Steel, it has been confirmed.
Investment vehicle Ataer Holding has been named as the preferred bidder for the manufacturing giant which employs thousands of people in and around Yorkshire.
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The deal is unlikely to become official for several weeks whilst Atear combs through British Steel’s business but the future of the business now looks to be secure.
The business went into receivership earlier this year after its owners Greybull Capital ran into a number of issues concerning Brexit and the international trade climate.
The Official Receiver said: “Following discussions with a number of potential purchasers for the British Steel group over the past few weeks I am pleased to say I have now received an acceptable offer from Ataer Holdings AS for the purchase of the whole business and I am now focusing on finalising the sale.”
British Steel employs 5,000 staff, including 4,000 at its plant in Scunthorpe, and a further 700 on Teesside, with another 15,000 employed in its supply chain.
Ataer, which invests funds for the Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Fund - or Oyak - already owns nearly 50 per cent of Turkey’s biggest steel producer, Erdemir.
Lord Haskins, chairman the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and joint Chair of the British Steel Support Group, told The Yorkshire Post he viewed the news as “encouraging”.
He said: “British Steel is a vitally important business within the Humber economy, a major employer in North Lincolnshire that also supports a vibrant supply chain across the Humber. The Humber LEP has also been working closely with British Steel to develop proposals for the logistics hub as part of the Heathrow expansion plans and have made good progress to reach the final short-list.”
British Steel has continued to trade since the insolvency was first confirmed in May with all staff still being paid during this period.
Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, Dr Ian Kelly, hailed the attitude of staff at the manufacturer.
“We look forward to Ataer, Oyak’s investment arm completing the deal with the Official Receiver and buying the company out of receivership by the end of this year,” he said.
However, there has been criticism that the company is too close to the Turkish government and lacks accountability.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This is fantastic news. A potential buyer has now agreed terms to buy British Steel as whole and to run it as a business. They have now entered into an exclusive period to finalise legal documentation over the coming weeks, which will secure the long-term future of British Steel.
“Since the day the business went into liquidation we’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes with Government to get talks to this point and it’s a massive step forward for all parties that a deal is agreed.
“While it’s not quite over the line yet, this will be a huge weight off the shoulders of local workers, their families and the supply chain.
“I want to thank British Steel staff for continuing to work hard for the business during these uncertain times, which has been noticed by the potential buyers as a reason for their interest in the business. I’d also like to thank politicians from all parties, the unions and Government for stepping up to save British Steel and to protect Teesside jobs. This is what we can achieve when we work together. Today is a good day.”
Gareth Stace, UK Steel director general, welcomed the news and warned the loss of British Steel would have delivered a severe blow to UK manufacturing.
He said: “The UK steel sector has a potentially bright future, underpinned by increasing UK and global steel demand for our products, but the Government must recognise the need to address the business environment in the UK which currently undermines our competitiveness.
“The steel industry is ready to invest in its future in the UK, all it requires is a partnership with the Government to help deliver a level playing field that can unlock its potential.”
British Steel produces circa £2.5m tonnes of steel per year.