Reports claim Sheffield Forgemasters 'could be nationalised by MoD'

Steelmaker Sheffield Forgemasters could be nationalised, it was being reported today.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 2:38 pm

Sky News is today reporting that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is looking to take control of the firm, which provides steel for the UK's nuclear submarine fleet.

They have reported that talks have been going on for six months, and that a takeover could be announced within days.

In a statement sent to The Star, the MoD said it was in regular dialogue with the firm.

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Bost. Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd. Picture: Chris Etchells

An MoD spokesperson said: “Sheffield Forgemasters is a strategic supplier to Defence therefore we are in regular dialogue with them.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further.”

David Bond, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “Our long-term relationship with UK Defence prime contractors and the MoD is based on the critical work we do within the defence programme and it would be inappropriate to comment further on such commercial sensitivities.”

Forgemasters hit the headlines in April, when it was announced that the firm as buying a giant 13,000 tonne press for more than £120m - one of the largest investments in steelmaking in the city.

Feature on Sheffield Forgemasters....23rd April 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

The Brightside-based company snapped up the machine - one of the biggest in the world - to make forgings for nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy far into the future.

The deal was supported with a loan from the Ministry of Defence.

At the time, David Bond, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters, said they had ‘decades’ of nuclear defence work lined up but needed newer equipment.

He said: “We have a clear line of sight for the provision of critical forgings into UK defence nuclear work, which spans decades, but our ageing main forge press is unlikely to survive for that length of time.

“We have been examining ways of replacing this asset and became aware of a nearly new 13,000 tonne press being sold in Japan, which we have moved quickly to purchase.”

In October the company announced plan in to axe 95 jobs due to a ‘significant downturn for commercial work driven by the pandemic’.

The government controversially cancelled an £80m loan to Forgemasters for a 11,000 tonne press set to cost £120m 10 years ago, saying it was ‘unaffordable’.

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