British Steel in talks over possible Scottish sell-offs

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The Independent Online
THE FUTURE of two Scottish steelworks owned by British Steel was thrown into confusion yesterday after it emerged that the company was in talks with a potential buyer in France, writes Neil Thapar.

British Steel confirmed it was in discussion with Vallourec, the Normandy-based industrial group, over its Clydesdale and Imperial works in Lanarkshire.

Although it refused to elaborate on the discussions, there are growing fears that they could lead to substantial job losses. Last year British Steel sparked a huge political controversy after announcing the closure of its Ravenscraig plant, costing thousands of jobs.

The plants, which together employ 470 staff, produce seamless steel tubing, principally for use by the North Sea oil industry. British Steel buys the basic tubing from Vallourec, then tempers and finishes the pipes before selling to its own customers.

However, the plants' total sales are thought to be small in relation to the group's overall activities.

One City analyst said: 'This is all wrapped up with Ravenscraig. The company has been seeking ways to dispose of its Scottish operations. They were considering dismantling and selling the entire plant in the Far East, but the talks suggest the business could be sold instead.'