Deal for two Scottish steelworks close to being struck, Nicola Sturgeon says
A deal is close to being struck to secure the future of two Scottish steelworks, the First Minister has said.
Efforts have been continuing to attract new operators for Tata Steel's mothballed plants at Clydebridge and Dalzell.
Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs on Wednesday: "Negotiations with Liberty House and Tata Steel and the Scottish Government are continuing as we speak to secure the basis for an agreement which would see Liberty House buy and operate the Dalzell and Clydebridge steel plants.
"The final due diligence on that agreement is taking place at present. The agreement would be facilitated by the Scottish Government and involve us buying the plants and then immediately selling them on to Liberty for the same consideration.
"Fergus Ewing is attending the Scottish steel taskforce this afternoon and will provide further details at that point."
The Scottish Government recently announced a cut in business rates at the plants from April for any new operator, provided they continue to use the sites for steel production.
A taskforce was established to secure jobs and the future of steel manufacturing in Scotland after Tata announced 1,200 UK job losses in October.
Ms Sturgeon said during First Minister's Questions: "I want to thank the workforce, the unions and the companies for their patience and perseverance.
"We promised we would leave no stone unturned in our efforts to secure the future of our steel industry and that is what we continue to do."
Clare Adamson, SNP MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, said: "That we have reached this stage is in no small part down to the strong action taken by the SNP government to maximise the potential for investment, including committing to cutting business rates at the plants.
"Lanarkshire's steel industry is iconic, not just locally but right across Scotland - I sincerely hope that this news will mean Lanarkshire's furnaces will continue to burn for some time to come."
Scottish Labour's James Kelly, a member of the steel taskforce, said later: "Hopefully this deal can be concluded as soon as possible so these two plants can be put back into production and skilled workers can be re-employed. There are still some details to be finalised but these can hopefully be overcome shortly."