A Chinese industrial giant founded by a former communist party official was able to be announced as a buyer of British Steel in just a few days after employees were informed in an e-mail that the exchange of contracts was due.
The Jingye Group was at the forefront of the steelmaker's acquisition of the liquidation after talks between government officials and Ataer Holdings, a subsidiary of the Turkish pension fund linked to the country's autocratic government, came to a standstill.
Ataer has fallen into third place with steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta, who plans to add the company to his UK-based Liberty House group, which, however, has to be officially ruled out.
However, a message sent to British Steel employees and seen by the Guardian indicates that the Official Receiver, a government employee who manages the sale, believes he will immediately shake hands with the sale to Jingye. The email stated November 10 as the target date for the exchange of contracts for the deal, but this deadline has now expired.
Sam Woodward, a special bookkeeping manager for EY, who supports the Official Receiver, wrote, "As you know, Jingye has been speeding up due diligence over the past two weeks, and I am pleased to announce that it is making good progress.
"As many of you may know, we have embarked on a scheduled agreement exchange agreement by November 10, 2019, and we are all working hard to adhere to this timetable."
A sale could secure the immediate future of more than 4,000 employees, most of whom work at the Scunthorpe site, one of the last two blast furnace plants in the UK.
According to a well-placed source, high-ranking Jingye officials told more than 100 Scunthorpe employees that they hoped to meet the deadline of 10 November on a recent visit to conduct a due diligence purchase.
The official beneficiary, who originally set this deadline, is ready to push ahead with the process next week, if there are signs of an impending agreement. The talks continued over the weekend, with Jingye increasingly winning the race.
In the memo to employees, the Special Manager promised an update on Monday, but warned that signing contracts would not mean the sale was fully completed.
Since the company collapsed in May, owned by investment firm Greybull Capital, the Official Receiver has been overseeing a long and sometimes tedious search for a buyer. It is estimated that the cost to the taxpayers who have been keeping the business alive has been £ 1m per day.
Jingye is willing to pay £ 70 million for the ailing business, but could also receive up to £ 300 million in loans, indemnities and grants to support its plans to increase production by 10%.
A steelworkers union spokesman said, "If so [the sale] If confirmed, we welcome this positive move to secure British Steel under new ownership.
"The continued interest of both Ataer and Jingye shows that potential buyers believe that British Steel can have a sustainable future.
"Any new owner would not only acquire a steel company, but hire dedicated and skilled workers who, despite the uncertainty of recent months, break production records to give the company a chance."
Founded 30 years ago by Li Ganpo, a former Communist Party official, Jingye has completely rebuilt the group in a corner of Hebei Province, famous for its role in founding the People's Republic of China.
A promotional video on Jingye's website points to "Xibaipo Ghost", a reference to the small town from which Mao Zedong staged some of the decisive battles of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. holy place of revolution ".
Jingye, which employs 23,500 people and generates annual sales of around GBP 10 billion in 2018, began producing steel in 2002, saying in the video that it wants to "become global."
Nic Dakin, Labor MP of Scunthorpe, said: "British Steel employees have done an excellent job of continuing to produce and sell steel in these difficult months.
"It looks like we've reached a point where a new owner could be identified and that would be very good news for the company and the surrounding communities."
Liberty House has not given up hope of snatching a deal from Jingye. However, the plan to convert Scunthorpe into an electric arc furnace that produces recycled steel from scrap metal would lead to an immediate loss of jobs, although some experts say that this is a more sustainable strategy in the long term.