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Turkey’s army pension fund preferred bidder for British Steel: report

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The Official Receiver is to announce this week that an investment arm of Turkey’s armed forces pension fund is the preferred bidder for British Steel, BBC reported.

Ataer Holding would then be given several weeks to try to buy British Steel — the owner of the Scunthorpe works — out of insolvency.

British Steel was put into compulsory liquidation in May, when the Official Receiver was appointed.

Ataer owns nearly 50 percent of Erdemir, Turkey’s biggest steel producer.

It is the investment vehicle of the Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Fund (known as Oyak), the pension fund for the country’s armed forces.

British Steel has about 5,000 employees. There are 3,000 at Scunthorpe, with another 800 on Teesside and in northeastern England.

The Financial Times reported that Oyak is chaired by Mehmet Taş, a former army general, and its annual general meeting in May was attended by Turkey’s defense minister and the head of the country’s armed forces.

It already has interests in cement, agriculture, mining and energy as well as a joint venture with French carmaker Renault and revenues of $9.8 billion (£8.1 billion) last year.

The paper said Ataer, established by Oyak in 2005, plans to embark on a spate of global steel acquisitions and considers buying British Steel a “bold” first step that would be a signal of intent.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said the union was meeting with the administrator on Thursday and that reports of a buyer were speculation.

“Unite understands from previous scheduled meetings that there are three serious bidders who are interested in buying British Steel as a going concern.

“With regards to the potential bid from the Turkish military pension fund. While we welcome it as a serious proposition, Unite will be watching this closely and speaking with our Turkish sister unions given Turkey’s record of repression alongside reported opposition to independent trade union organization in its Turkish steel plants.”

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