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‘Away we go’ – Rotherham steelworkers ‘optimistic’ amid reports of Liberty Steel refinancing talks

today24/08/2021

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South Yorkshire steelworkers are “optimistic” after reports emerged that Liberty Steel’s owner is in talks with a US financier to save the troubled firm, potentially ending months of uncertainty.

The firm’s 3,000 UK staff – including workers in Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Brinsworth plants – have been in limbo since March after the collapse of its main financial backer Greensill Capital.

But there could be light at the end of the tunnel as Liberty owner GFG Alliance is currently in talks with American lender White Oak to refinance the firm, the Financial Times has reported, citing two sources “familiar with the talks”.

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Rotherham steelworker Chris Williamson told YorkshireLive staff are “optimistic” after reports of the talks following months of “frustrating” stop-start production due to financing troubles.

“Obviously until it’s consolidated [we don’t know] but it does seem to be getting better. Hopefully this is it, away we go,” said Mr Williamson, a representative for the Community steelworkers’ union.

“We’re optimistic that we’re moving forward.”

Back in June Mr Williamson said staff were working with their “hands tied behind [their] backs” as a lack of cash prevented the firm from fulfilling orders.

GFG Alliance declined to comment on reports of its talks with White Oak.

The months-long Liberty Steel saga has been turbulent – including the announcement of a Serious Fraud Office probe into GFG Alliance back in May which company said it would fully co-operate with.

In July accounting experts were visibly baffled as Parliament picked through the firm’s troubled finances – with one saying there was “no reason” why the Government would bail out the manufacturer.

Back in May Liberty announced plans to sell off its Stocksbridge plant in a move it said made “significant progress” in tackling the company’s financial woes.

Previously Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it would have been “irresponsible” for the government to grant GFG parent company a £170 million bail-out package after it requested the cash to stay afloat.

The news also comes a month after the Government announced plans to nationalise Sheffield Forgemasters International, which employs 700 people in and around the city.

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Written by: Rother Radio News


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today24/08/2021