Chinese steelmaker Jingye in £70 million British Steel rescue deal

A £70 million rescue deal to save British Steel has been agreed in principle with the Chinese Jingye Group, saving the jobs of 4,000 people working at sites in Scunthorpe and Teesside as well as 20,000 more in the wider supply chain.

According to Gareth Stace, director-general of UK Steel, British Steel is a significant asset to the United Kingdom and accounts for one third of UK steel production, mainly from its Scunthorpe site.

Stace told the BBC that the two companies would complement one another as both make wire rod, but British Steel makes rail and heavy sections, such as girders, which Jingye doesn't make.

According to Stace, a very significant investment was needed in Scunthorpe and that's exactly what Jingye will deliver. He said the company was in 'for the longer term' and added that the UK steel industry can compete on the global stage.

Jingye plans to increase production at Scunthorpe to 2.5Mt/yr.

Since May this year, British Steel has been run at a loss following Greybull Capital, the previous owner, walking away from the company, claiming Brexit uncertainty had thrown forward order books under a bus. There was a moment of hope when a deal of sorts was struck with the Turkish company Ataer Holdings, but both parties failed to agree terms.

There is, of course, a certain irony in the fact that British Steel has been acquired by a Chinese steelmaker as one of the key reasons behind the British steel industry struggling for a number of years has been because of cheap Chinese steel imports flooding the market, even more so since Donald Trump slapped 25% tariffs on steel imported into the USA.

Jingye employs 23,500 people and has interests in hotels, tourism and property.