British Steel receiver warns sale will take time

Wednesday 10th July 2019 05:50 EDT

A government employee responsible of finding a buyer for British Steel has said he is considering several "viable" offers but warned that a sale aimed at saving 5,000 jobs may not happen quickly. Official receiver David Chapman, who is managing the sale process and has been overseeing the funding of operations at British Steel since it went into liquidation, prefers buyers interested in the whole business rather than tweezing out individual parts.

"I am encouraged by the level of interest shown in purchasing British Steel. After reviewing all the bids received, I am now in further discussions with the potential buyers who have made the most viable offers for the business. Due to the complicated nature of the business I expect any potential sale will take time to deliver. While these commercial negotiations continue, British Steel continues to trade and supply its customers as normal," Chapman said.

He is scheduled to give a further update this week at a weekly meeting hosted by Business Minister Greg Clark. The business department said, "The government is determined to do everything in its efforts to find a suitable buyer for British Steel and safeguard the jobs of the more than 4,000 people directly employed at British Steel, as well as those in the supply chain."

The department said there are regular conversations with a wide range of companies both in the UK and overseas. The steelworkers union also favours a buyer that wants to take over the entire business, including the Scunthorpe blast furnace steelworks, where the vast majority of staff are employed.

Interested parties are thought to include India's JSW and the Chinese state-backed steel mill owner Hesteel, while billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich's Evraz has also been linked to the company. Liberty House, meanwhile, has slagged on its interest after the government declined to provide loan guarantees for a costly conversion of the Scunthorpe site to recycle scrap steel. Network Rail, which gets 97 per cent of the steel for Britain's train tracks from the Scunthorpe site, has said that if no other buyer is found, it is prepared to save the rail service centre, the division that covers welding, finishing and storage of rail.

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