British Steel collapses, costing thousands of jobs

23 Mai, 2019, 02:24 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • A general view shows the British Steel works in Scunthorpe Britain

Longstanding issues such as uncompetitive electricity prices also continue to deter investment in U.K. manufacturing, said Gareth Stace, the director-general of U.K. Steel, the trade association of the industry.

British Steel supports a further 20,000 jobs through its supply chain, both upstream and downstream of its steelworks, all of which could be affected by the "tsunami-like effect" of its liquidation, according to Freddy Khalastchi, partner at Menzies accountancy firm.

Greybull paid former owners Tata Steel a nominal one pound for the company three years ago.

Britain's government pledged Tuesday May 21, 2019 to do its utmost to support British Steel amid reports the company is facing bankruptcy. This would not only have placed British Steel into an insolvent financial position, but the charge, attached to its operational assets, would have been likely to prevent any new owner from acquiring these assets in the future.

After being renamed as British Steel, the company made a profit in 2017 but cut around 400 jobs previous year, blaming factors such as the weak pound and uncertainties surrounding Brexit, which it said hammered its order book.

The move by Britain's second-biggest steel maker threatens more uncertainty for thousands of workers at the company's plants, mainly at Scunthorpe where more than 4,000 are employed.

The European Commission said it had not been formally notified of any concrete plans by the United Kingdom authorities to provide additional public finance to the company.

Turning a profit in steel is particularly hard in Britain, where steelmakers pay some of the highest green taxes and energy costs in the world, as well as facing high labor costs and business rates.

"The whole manufacturing sector is crying out for certainty over Brexit, unable to plan the trading relationship it will have with its biggest market".

Christopher Greenough, commercial director at Shrewsbury-based pressings specialist Salop Design, said: "Again we see that the lack of investment in United Kingdom steel has led it to become uncompetitive in a very much productivity focused sector".

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British Steel secured a government loan of around $154 million (120 million pounds) this month to enable it to comply with the European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS) rules.

The opposition Labour Party, along with UK unions Unite and GMB, called on the government to nationalise the company.

With your permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about British Steel.

"The collapse of British Steel would be devastating for thousands of jobs in Scunthorpe, as well as in the wider supply chain", opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote on Twitter.

"To this end they have commenced a sale process to identify a purchaser for the businesses", EY said in a statement.

Greybull are British Steel's only creditor at the holding company level and have secured their loans against its assets.

"Its going to be hard to survive this afternoon".

The UK government has a chequered history with Greybull as the Monarch collapse forced it to repatriate more than 100,000 stranded tourists at a cost of about £60 million.

The Mayfair-based firm also provided backing for the buyout of British high street electronics chain Comet before its collapse in 2012.

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