Erdoğan-linked Cengiz on standby for British Steel bid if Jingye deal fails

Turkish conglomerate Cengiz Holding, whose owner is known for his close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is prepared to bid for the UK’s British Steel if the company’s planned sale to China’s Jingye collapses, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The planned move by Cengiz Holding arrives as Britain’s second biggest steel maker collapsed into insolvency in May. The High Court ordered the company into compulsory liquidation, according to the government's Insolvency Service, after talks for a government bailout ended without agreement.

“We are watching developments closely and are ready to make a bid for the whole of British Steel,” the Financial Times quoted Omer Mafa, chief executive of Cengiz, as saying in a statement on Sunday. 

Cengiz Holding has been holding talks in recent weeks with officials from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as a back-up plan, should the deal with Jingye fall through, the article said. 

Cengiz, a $7 billion a year business with interests including metals, infrastructure and construction, is “well placed to acquire overseas assets,” Mafa said. 

Mehmet Cengiz, the founder of Cengiz Holding, enjoys very close relations with Turkish President Erdoğan and has won several major construction contracts since Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

Cengiz’s contracts include the construction and operation of Istanbul’s new Istanbul Airport, expected to become the world’s largest following full completion of construction, and the construction of a dam on the Tigris River in southern Turkey that will soon submerge the ancient town of Halfeti.

Cengiz is the second Turkish entity interested in British Steel. Talks with the country’s Ataer Holdings, an investment arm of Turkey’s military pension scheme, collapsed last year following weeks of exclusive talks.