Tata Steel is rumoured to be nearing a deal to sell its business including the Scunthorpe plant operations. The Sunday Telegraph revealed that Tata, the figurehead of the UK steel and manufacturing industry, has three potential buyers for its steel works in Scunthorpe.
Greybull Capital, investment firm Endless and a party branded a 'mystery' US investor, are fighting for the last bid in the Scunthorpe sale. US billionaire and industry legend Gary Klesch was included in the talks as well, according to reports, but dropped out after a while.
Almost 1,000 jobs are set to be lost at Scunthorpe because of the UK's ongoing steel crisis. Both Tata Steel and SSI UK have mothballed plants and terminated operations because of the low steel price and climbing costs.
National manufacturers' organisation EEF found that the steel industry is leading the fall of manufacturing in the UK. In a report published on Monday (7 December), EEF said there was little reason for 'festive cheer', as 2016's outlook is gloomy.
The prediction for the coming year is the first negative one in six years according to EEF. The industry's output balance is set to fall for the fourth consecutive quarter, reaching the lowest level since 2009.
"Sector differences prevail," EEF said in a statement. Metals are named as the sector dragging down the manufacturing industry, as well as electrical materials. Automotive and chemicals output is still positive.
"The downbeat mood may not be universal across all industry sectors, but it certainly seems to be spreading as the challenges have mounted through this year – from the collapse in the oil price, slower world trade growth and weaker than expected construction activity," EEF chief economist Lee Hopley commented.
SSI UK's Redcar plant in Teesside as well as Tata's Scunthorpe plant have suffered from the manufacturing slump. Previously, the UK government had already pledged £9m to 'save' the factory-dependent Scunthorpe economy.
The care package followed anger from voters and the opposition that the Conservative government allegedly did not do enough to save the operations in Teesside. EU aid state laws prevented the Tories from doing so, but they also said it was financially irresponsible to bail out the Redcar works.