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British Steel French factory sale ruffles feathers

By Hazel Davis

Hayange plant for sale separately

British Steel’s French factory is up for sale separately from the rest of the manufacturer, despite a Chinese conglomerate agreeing to buy the entire company.

China’s Jingye Group agreed to pay £50m for the steelmaker in November, in a deal that would save 4,000 jobs and thousands more in the pipeline. This agreement covered the entire company assets, including its plant in Hayange in northern France, owned by British Steel France.

It is thought that this potential separate sale was part of a backup plan in case the Jingye takeover fell through. However, this additional purchase could scupper the entire sale.

In November the Jingye Group announced plans to invest £1.2bn in the British Steel business over the next decade, including upgrades to plants and machinery, boosting energy efficiency and improving its environmental performance.

British Steel is currently being run by the UK Insolvency Service, ensuring wages and bills are paid but as British Steel France owns the Hayange plant it’s separate from the insolvency proceedings. The Jingye Group is a steel and manufacturing giant which also deals in real estate, pharma, finance hotels and tourism.

FURTHER READING: Chinese firm to rescue British Steel in £70m deal

FURTHER READING: British Steel deal in doubt

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