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Historic steel company bought by Ministry of Defence

Unions have welcomed moves to nationalise a historic steel company, saying it ends years of instability.

The Ministry of Defence will buy Sheffield Forgemasters, saying it intends to invest up to £400 million into the firm for defence-critical plant, equipment and infrastructure over the next decade.

The cost of the acquisition is £2.56 million for the entire share capital of the company plus debt assumed.

Unite union assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Unite has been engaged in a long battle with the Ministry of Defence and the UK Government to protect UK steel supply to our defence and nuclear programmes, so today’s news will be welcomed with a huge sigh of relief right across our steel communities.

“It brings to an end years of instability for this historic 215-year-old company, but is also a sign that Government is maybe finally waking up to a crisis of its own making.

“Critical infrastructure industries like steel function better in public hands and advanced economies like our own need to have stable, secure domestic steel production capabilities to protect our national security interests as well as to compete in global markets.

“We look forward to a secure future for the plant which brings with it the guarantee for both today’s workforce and the thousands of young workers to follow the hope of a highly-skilled job in a well-paid, unionised plant.”

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community trade union, said: “This move will secure Sheffield Forgemasters’ role as a critical supplier to the next generation of UK defence programmes.

“We know with the right framework of support our industry has a bright future at the core of a low-carbon economy, so we are pleased to see some much needed investment going into Sheffield Forgemasters to provide long-term security.

“We see this move as a recognition of the importance of the steel industry to our country’s economic future. The pandemic has showed us the danger of relying on fragile overseas supply chains, so we are pleased to see a viable future secured for Sheffield Forgemasters.”