SPECULATION is mounting that a Yorkshire-based turnaround investor is in contention to secure a deal that could save 5,000 steel industry jobs.
Leeds-based Endless, which has transformed the fortunes of many struggling firms, is reported to be one of two big investors involved in talks about a potential deal to buy Tata’s historic Scunthorpe steel plant, and several smaller sites across the UK.
The Sunday Telegraph claimed that Endless and Greybull, the financiers who rescued the airline Monarch, are leading the pack of potential bidders. A third bid has reportedly come from a US private equity house. The paper reported that talks have focused on the sale of Tata’s Scunthorpe-based long-products division, where the Indian steelmaker recently announced around 1,200 redundancies as part of a restructuring.
The business, which the paper said would have 5,000 staff after the redundancies, produces parts that are used in construction and heavy industry. It is understood that a deal could be completed the week after next.
An Endless spokesman declined to comment on the report. Over the last 10 years, Endless has raised a total of £1bn from regional, national and international sources to invest in UK businesses. The firm made its name doing turnaround work on companies such as Crown Paints and it has graduated to mid-market private equity deals.
A spokesman for Greybull said: “We don’t comment on speculation.”
A Tata spokesman said: “We are still assessing all strategic options for our long products Europe business.”
Any deal to save the Scunthorpe steelworks will be welcomed by business and political leaders, who believe the industry’s demise will have terrible economic consequences for North Lincolnshire.
Last month, steelworkers marched through Scunthorpe to demand action to save jobs after EU Ministers were accused of “failing to grasp” the crisis facing the industry. The business secretary Sajid Javid and his European counterparts in Brussels have been urged to help stop the dumping of cheap Chinese steel, one of the issues blamed by companies that have announced thousands of job losses.
Last week, a Yorkshire MP poured scorn on the Government’s vision for a Northern Powerhouse, at a time when the steel industry was in crisis.
Rotherham Labour MP Sarah Champion said devolution plans for city regions were little more than an “election gimmick” after it emerged Tata Steel would press ahead with 720 job losses in its speciality steels division.
Around 500 jobs will go at the Aldwarke plant in Rotherham. The company confirmed the cuts after rejecting an alternative plan put forward by independent experts commissioned by trade unions.
Last week, a spokesman said the Government would “continue to do everything it can to support the UK steel industry.”