British Steel ‘has 80 potential bidders’

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Government officials say they are making “good progress” in finding potential buyers for British Steel which collapsed last week.

The Official Receiver said it had made contact with more than 80 potential purchasers, 60 of whom have been sent non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

NDAs give bidders access to information that helps them prepare offers.

“Expressions of interest are due with me by early June,” the Official Receiver said in a statement.

“The indemnity provided to me [by the government] has enabled British Steel to continue to trade and the company retains good support from its customers.

“I would like to thank the workforce for their ongoing support. All staff have been retained and continue to be paid.”

British Steel was placed into compulsory liquidation on 22 May, putting 5,000 jobs at risk and endangering 20,000 in the supply chain.

It followed a breakdown in rescue talks between the government and the company’s owner, Greybull Capital.

For now, the government is covering the firm’s wage bill.

But if the Official Receiver fails to find a buyer, British Steel could be wound up and redundancies would follow.

Slump in orders

Greybull Capital bought the business for £1 from Tata during depths of the 2016 steel crisis, going on to rebrand it as British Steel.

The private equity firm hoped to turn around the business, which employs most of its staff at plants in Scunthorpe and Teesside, but has more recently run into trouble.

British Steel has been hit by a slump in orders from European customers ‎due to uncertainty over the Brexit process.

It has has also struggled with the weakness of the pound since the EU referendum in June 2016 and the escalating US-China trade war.

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