The long saga of British Steel’s survival came to its end today as Chinese conglomerate Jingye completed the acquisition of the firm’s UK and Dutch assets from the Official Reciever.
The deal, which is reportedly worth £50m, brings to an end 10 months of uncertainty since the firm collapsed last May.
Jingye will put £1.2bn into the firm to make it more competitive, saying it plans to return the company to “industry comparable margins” within five years.
The Chinese firm’s plans include a new electric arc furnace in Teeside and a new 250MW power plant at Scunthorpe, which will be a third more efficient than the one it replaces.
As a result of the deal, around 3,200 jobs will be secured, with an extra 100 moving over to Barrick Steel.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The sounds of these steelworks have long echoed throughout Yorkshire and Humber and the North East.
“Today, as British Steel takes its next steps under Jingye’s leadership, we can be sure these will ring out for decades to come”.
British Steel chief executive Ron Deelen hailed the agreement as “a momentous day” for the business:
“I’m confident we’ll seize the incredible opportunity Jingye have given us to build on 150 years of heritage, and further cement British Steel’s reputation as a manufacturer of world class steel”.
Alok Sharma, the business secretary, said the sale “represents an important vote of confidence in the UK’s steel industry”, adding the deal was the “start of a new era for those regions that have built their livelihoods around industrial steel production”.
He added that the government was “mobilising all available resources to give immediate on the ground support and advice” to the 450 or so employees at risk of redundancy.
Steelworkers’ union GMB said that though today’s deal “must be celebrated… on the other it is heartbreaking that long-serving members of high-skilled staff, many of whom have given their entire career to British steel, are seen as surplus to requirements”.