Business Companies 22 May 2019 Steel plant that Tat ...

Steel plant that Tata sold seeks bailout

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | THOMAS BIESHEUVEL & ALEX MORALES
Published May 22, 2019, 1:24 am IST
Updated May 22, 2019, 1:24 am IST
During a question and answer session in the House of Commons, the government said talks with the company are ongoing, but offered no details.
British Steel is asking for about 30 million pounds ($38 million) from the government and has warned that it will fall into administration without the support, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.
 British Steel is asking for about 30 million pounds ($38 million) from the government and has warned that it will fall into administration without the support, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

The future of one of the UK's few remaining steel producers hangs in the balance as its private equity owners seek an emergency bailout from the government.

British Steel is asking for about 30 million pounds ($38 million) from the government and has warned that it will fall into administration without the support, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

 

During a question and answer session in the House of Commons, the government said talks with the company are ongoing, but offered no details.

"The government will leave no stone unturned in its support for the steel industry," Business Minister Andrew Stephenson said in Parliament. "We can only act within the strict bounds of what is legally possible under domestic and European law."

Sky News reported the insolvency talks at the company earlier on Tuesday.

The possible collapse of British Steel would put about 5,000 jobs at risk and leave the country with just one primary steelmaking site. The company's troubles underscore the difficulty facing European steelmakers in a market that's been flooded by cheap imports. UK producers have also been hurt by uncertainty around Brexit and high energy costs.

British Steel was created in 2016, when private equity firm Greybull Capital LLP bought assets from India's Tata Steel Ltd. for a small fee and renamed them to invoke memories of the once-government-owned national champion. It runs two giant blast furnaces at Scunthorpe in northeast England, specializing in steel for construction and rail lines.

Nic Dakin, the Labour Party lawmaker who represents Scunthorpe said that while he believes the government is focused on getting a resolution, "trying is not good enough frankly."

"The situation is very serious," Dakin told Sky News. He said the government needed to "level the playing field" so that British-made steel can compete with global companies. "That still needs to be done so that this industry doesn't just lurch from one crisis to another," he said.

British Steel makes 2.8 million tons of steel a year and products have been used in buildings including The Shard skyscraper in London, Hudson Yards in New York and Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Tata Steel's Port Talbot plant in Wales is the country's only other operating blast furnace site.

The company received some government assistance in the form of a 120 million pound loan ($156 million) to cover costs related to the European Union's carbon trading program. But it wasn't enough. Just last week, British Steel was in talks for extra funding to solve a cash crunch caused by Brexit.

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