Ankara, Aug 16 (AFP) The Turkish military pension fund OYAK said Friday it had signed a provisional deal to buy British Steel after the UK steelmaker was forced into compulsory liquidation in May. "As part of its regional growth ambitions in steel industry, OYAK, the biggest complimentary pension fund in Turkey, signed an exclusivity agreement to buy the industry symbol British Steel that has operations in UK, France and the Netherlands," OYAK said in a statement.
The Ankara-based fund added that it hoped the takeover by Ataer Holding -- wholly owned by OYAK -- would happen by the end of 2019. After British Steel entered insolvency, UK authorities put the company up for sale and nearly 80 bidders including steel producers sought to buy it, OYAK said.
The exclusivity deal gives OYAK time to hold talks with customers, suppliers, employees and trade unions, and carry out a detailed inspection, due to be completed by September. The head of OYAK's mining and metallurgy division, Toker Ozcan, said his priority would be "to increase the production capacity and to invest in clean steel production in British Steel".
British Steel, Britain's second-biggest steelmaker, employs around 5,000 people while an estimated 20,000 more have links to the firm's supply chain. There had been fears of major job losses after the group, which had been owned by Greybull Capital, failed to secure a full financial rescue.
Greybull blamed Brexit strains for its financial collapse. Ataer Holding already has interests in the steel industry, as the largest stakeholder in Turkey's Erdemir.
OYAK was set up in 1961, a year after the first military coup in modern Turkey, and has 362,968 members. The fund's total assets were worth $19.3 billion in 2018. (AFP) AMS
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