The UK government is holding talks with Turkish conglomerate Cengiz Holding about stepping in to buy British Steel in the event that a planned sale to the Chinese industrial firm Jingye falls through, The Guardian reported.
Officials remain confident that Jingye’s £50m purchase of British Steel, including the Scunthorpe steelworks, will go ahead in the next few weeks, saving about 4,000 jobs in the ailing industry.
But The Guardian understands that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has also been examining a back-up plan involving İstanbul-based Cengiz, which enjoys close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
A sale to Jingye still faces several obstacles, including fraught negotiations with suppliers to British Steel and concern among trade unions at the prospect of cuts to jobs and employment benefits.
The French government’s approval is also required for the sale of British Steel’s Hayange plant near the border with Luxembourg.
Jingye, led by the former Communist party official Li Ganpo, only became the preferred bidder after a deal with Ataer Holdings, a unit of the Turkish military pension fund Oyak, disintegrated.