Jingye Group, the largest rebar producer in China and the owner of the British Steel in the UK since last year, is now seeking to expand its presence in the European market. According to media sources, Jingye Group has set its sights on acquiring three steel plants owned by UK-based Liberty Steel, a subsidiary of GFG Alliance. Jingye Group already has a commercial relationship with Liberty as it supplies its mill in Scotland with plates that are produced at Scunthorpe steelworks. According to sources, the Chinese steel giant is interested mainly in wire rod assets in the UK but the issue might take time. “Talks are in place but there are legal issues that need to be sorted out since Jingye wants to be sure that once the purchase is done it can run the facilities,” a source familiar with the situation told SteelOrbis.
However, some market players believe it is a long shot for Jingye to expand its presence in the UK steel sector and there might be some resistance from UK government officials. “The UK government might be reluctant to let one single Chinese company own a big part of the country’s steel industry, considering that critical sectors like aerospace and defense are involved,” a source commented.
In March last year, Jingye Group acquired UK-based British Steel, including the company’s assets in the UK and the Netherlands, saving 3,200 jobs in Scunthorpe, Skinningrove and on Teesside in the UK, as SteelOrbis previously reported.