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Turkey’s military pension fund in exclusive rescue talks to take over British Steel

Turkey’s military pension fund has entered into exclusive talks for the takeover of British Steel.

Sky News first revealed that Ataer, a unit of Oyak which looks after the pension pots of Turkey’s military personnel, had entered into exclusive talks with advisers to the government who have been running the auction of the ailing steelmaker on behalf of the Official Receiver.

British Steel, whose largest manufacturing site is in Scunthorpe, collapsed into insolvency in May after the government chose not to give £30m to the company under its then-owner, Greybull Capital.

In a statement Ataer Holding said it was now exclusively conducting a detailed financial, legal and operational review for a period of two months.

It said: “During the exclusivity period, close negotiations to be held with customers, suppliers, employees and trade unions is significant for the future success of British Steel.”

Ataer said since British Seel went bankrupt on 21 May and entered a formal auction process, nearly 80 bidders across the world had expressed an interest.

The Official Receiver, a government agency responsible for the auction process, said the talks were for the whole of British Steel.

It said: “Following discussions with a number of potential purchasers for the British Steel group over the past few weeks I am pleased to say I have now received an acceptable offer from Ataer Holdings A.S. for the purchase of the whole business and I am now focusing on finalising the sale.

“I will be looking to conclude this process in the coming weeks, during which time British Steel continues to trade and supply its customers as normal.”

OYAK General Manager Suleyman Savas Erdem said: “We have achieved one of the biggest achievements of the Turkish steel industry and signed a preliminary agreement to buy the industrial giant of UK, British Steel.

“We will continue to evaluate opportunities globally inline with our growth-oriented vision and we will continue our investments to provide sustainable high benefit to our members.”

Around 3,000 people are employed at Scunthorpe, with more than 1,000 employees elsewhere in British Steel and an estimated 20,000 in its supply chain.

Sky’s City Editor Mark Kleinman exclusive revealed that Ataer’s bid in British Steel came after lenders to the steelmaker put pressure on EY, the advisor to the government, to seal a takeover or begin closing down the Scunthorpe site.

Since its collapse into liquidation, British Steel ‎has been funded through a taxpayer-backed indemnity and is estimated to be losing around £5m a week.

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