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Turkish pension fund confirms negotiations on potential British Steel buy

London — Turkey's Ataer Holding, the largest shareholder in Erdemir, the nation's biggest steel producer, is negotiating with the UK government on a possible acquisition of British Steel, a company source at OYAK Maden Metalurji Group confirmed late Wednesday. Turkish military pension fund OYAK is Ataer Holding's parent company.

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The source told S&P Global Platts that she could confirm details of a Financial Times report on the subject, including that senior Erdemir employees had visited British Steel's works at Scunthorpe for site tours and that the Turkish bidder's long-term goal was to build a new furnace and convert the entire plant to use gas over the next decade.

"Negotiations are ongoing and could be finalized soon," she added.

British Steel, which went into compulsory liquidation on May 22, has about 3 million mt/year of production capacity in the UK, France and the Netherlands. According to the FT report, Ataer could use products from British Steel for processing into finished steel products in Turkey.

According to an e-mail sent to Platts, OYAK Group's investment decisions are taken according to the economic and strategic growth targets decided by professional managers. "OYAK is the most successful example of pensions funds in Turkey because it strictly adheres to the corporate governance principles since 1961," OYAK said.

In addition to iron and steel, OYAK has interests in sectors including cement, automotive, agriculture and energy.

A spokesman for the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy declined to comment on the subject of negotiations on a potential sale of British Steel when approached by Platts late Wednesday.

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-- Annalisa Villa, annalisa.villa@spglobal.com

-- Diana Kinch, diana.kinch@spglobal.com

-- Cenk Can, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Daniel Lalor, daniel.lalor@spglobal.com