May 2, 2019 / 12:33 PM / 6 months ago

British Steel seals deal to buy Ascoval plant in France

FILE PHOTO: A steelworker watches the casting of molten metal at the Ascoval steelworks in Saint-Saulve near Valenciennes, France, November 8, 2018 REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - British Steel won approval from a French court to buy the Ascoval steel mill in northern France, in a deal that should help save jobs at the site and allow British Steel to expand in Europe as Brexit concerns weigh on its domestic market.

The fortunes of the British steelmaker have recovered under private investment firm Greybull Capital, which specialises in turning around struggling businesses.

British Steel was formed as a new company in 2016, after the Indian group Tata Steel sold a division to Greybull Capital for a token amount of one pound ($1.30).

The rescue deal for Ascoval, a joint venture between Vallourec and Ascometal, was welcomed by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and should guarantee the jobs of the 270 workers employed at the site.

British Steel will invest 47.5 million euros (£40.7 million) into Ascoval, while the French state and local government bodies will invest a further 47 million euros.

“The acquisition of Ascoval is part of our ongoing plans to re-establish British Steel as a leader in the steel industry,” said British Steel Chairman Roland Junck.

“It complements our current assets and the addition of Ascoval’s Electric Arc Furnace will help secure the growth and jobs of the group, strengthen relationships with key customers as well as open up a strong pipeline of new opportunities by expanding our product portfolio,” added Junck.

Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac; Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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