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Consortium owner Nantwich Investors has said it is prepared to invest more in the UK steel sector as it announced it had received a “large” premium on the £2.3bn purchase of Indian-owned Tata Steel’s European assets, almost tripling its own offer to owners of the ailing steelworks on Teesside.
Zooming in on the market interest, Christopher Bourman, managing director of Nantwich Investors, said: “We have now had interest from several very credible parties regarding the viability of the move to a modern, secure business.
“Given the interest of our other investors, I am confident that there is sufficient finance at hand to secure the complex restructuring required to see Teesside Steel rolled into a sustainable future, and we will be working closely with these investors to enable this.”
Discussions with potential financiers were ongoing, he said.
In a clear signal of its own investment plans, the buyers said they were committed to maintaining the UK steel industry’s traditional complex manufacturing sector that had helped it survive in a period of high prices and a shift to value-added steel processing.
The move comes as Europe’s steel industry faces challenges from cheaper steel that has largely been made in China, which emerged from the 2008 financial crisis with excessive capacity. Its emergence has put pressure on European steelmakers. In May European Commission officials recommended a €1.4bn loan to reduce European steel industry debt.
The HRC mill can produce 1m tons of steel per year from about a quarter of the steel plant’s space, which will be repurposed for high technology, such as heat transfer, press sheet milling and cold rolling. A new blast furnace will make 1.5m tons of steel per year and will be ready in 2022.
The “High technology R&D Port” will have an initial capacity of 20,000 tons, with a final capacity of 25,000 tons and additional research facilities.
The net working capital position of the steel plant will be above €200m at the end of the two-year process, when the plant is expected to generate an expected €70m, including a targeted net cash-flow before debt pay-down.
This final net cash-flow has been reported at €15.5m at the end of 2018.
The purchase takes Nantwich Investors’ annual commitment to the sector to €115m.