Jingye Group in talks to buy British Steel

AFP . Beijing | Update:

China's Jingye Group is in talks over a potential deal to buy British Steel, a company spokeswoman confirmed Monday, as the struggling industrial group seeks new owners.

The Chinese industrial giant is believed to be poised to agree a rescue of the British steel group, which collapsed into liquidation in May.

Jingye's spokeswoman confirmed to AFP Monday that the group's chairman was in Britain for talks, but said she couldn't give any update on how the discussions were going.

If agreed, it would mark a new lease of life for the steelmaker, which collapsed earlier this year after last-ditch talks with its owners failed to secure a full financial rescue.

China's Hebei-based Jingye Group specialises in iron and steel, but has investments in tourism, hotels and real estate.

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

The group is the latest to be linked to a rescue of the British steelmaker.

In September Turkish military pension fund OYAK said it had signed a provisional deal to buy British Steel, but hopes later faded of securing a deal.

Although it didn't take the steel producer into state ownership, the UK government said in May that it would keep paying staff wages in the hope that a buyer could be found.

Steel groups have blamed cheap imports from China for their recent difficulties.

In May, the European Steel Association urged the EU to help the struggling sector, which it said has been swamped by cheap steel from Asia since the US imposed import tariffs in 2018.

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