British Steel secures sales contract with China's Jingye Group

Workers leave the steelworks plant in Scunthorpe following a shift change as owner British Steel is to go into official recievership after failing to secure funds for its future

The lack of opportunities in northern England, where British Steel is based, is an election issue, as the social gap between north and south widens.

China's Jingye Steel will acquire the "business and assets" of British Steel, the United Kingdom government's Insolvency Service announced on Monday.

The news comes after the steel company, which owns the steelworks at Scunthorpe and directly employs around 5,000 people, collapsed into insolvency in May after months of financial pressure.

The BBC reported a £70m rescue deal had been agreed in principle, but a spokeswoman for the potential buyer told Reuters the deal had not been finalised and gave few further details.

Gareth Stace, director general of industry lobby group UK Steel, also said nothing had been finalised.

British Steel had been in the hands of the government via the Official Receiver since May, when it went into administration.

No-one from British Steel was immediately available for comment.

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British Steel had been in rescue talks with Ataer, which is a subsidiary of Turkey's state military retirement scheme Oyak.

The deal could protect 4,000 jobs at British Steel's sites in Scunthorpe and neighbouring Teeside, alongside an additional 20,000 jobs in the supply chain and 1,000 more overseas.

He said the company was in "for the longer term" and added that the United Kingdom steel industry can compete on the global stage.

Chinese ownership is contentious, especially in the steel industry.

An advantage of Jingye, a multi-industry business specialised in iron and steel, is that it knows the industry and has the ability to invest, industry sources say.

The European Steel Association has meanwhile urged the EU to help the bloc's struggling sector, which it said has been swamped by cheap steel from Asia since the U.S. imposed import tariffs in 2018.

According to its website, it has total assets of 39 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) and 23,500 employees.

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