The proposed sale of British Steel to the Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Fund, Oyak, has triggered an alarm at the UK Parliament with the Commons defence committee chief calling for the industry to remain under British control, UK’s Daily Mail newspaper reported.
Oyak was chosen above several other bidders including British-based Liberty, which already owns several steelworks in the UK and the deal, that could save 4,000 jobs that are at risk, is expected to be signed in two months, it said.
Oyak, the pension fund established by the military shortly after the coup in 1961, is active in fields ranging from Renault factories, to tourism, and is an industrial group big enough to compete with Turkey’s largest conglomerates.
‘‘No industry with a strong defence dimension should pass out of the control of British firms and jurisdiction,’’the Daily Mail quoted Julian Lewis, defence committee chairman, as saying.
Stressing that Turkey, a former strong and reliable NATO ally, is no longer the same country, Lewis said despite the proposed deal being better than seeing the industry collapse, it remains ‘‘much less desirable than having the company under British control.’’
Oyak is reportedly offering around £70million for the business, alongside a promise to invest £900million to double production, it said.
British defence experts are raising concerns over ties between the chairman of the conglomerate that manages pensions for Turkey’s military personnel and former army general, Mehmet Taş, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Independent said.
Accused of corruption by a parliamentary commission in Turkey, Oyak maintains it is run by independent managers, and does not receive contributions from the Turkish government as a conglomerate that adheres to strict corporate governance principles.
Not all in the UK are against the sale, however. For Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, the move is an ‘‘important and positive step forward in securing the future of British Steel.’’
‘‘This is an important milestone, and will be hugely encouraging to the workforce,’’ Roy Rickhuss of union Community told the Daily Mail.