(Reuters) - The collapse of British Steel has once again put private equity owner Greybull Capital in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Run out of London by Frenchman Marc Meyohas using family money, Greybull is well known for buying up companies in distress on the cheap with the aim of turning them around.
But Greybull’s record since it launched in April 2010 has been patchy, with four of the 10 companies it bought later declared insolvent or placed into administration.
Greybull’s website says it is “passionate about making companies successful”, yet British Steel is the second time in two years an investment has soured at the likely cost of thousands of UK jobs and a hefty bill for the British taxpayer.
In 2017, another Greybull company, Monarch Airlines, went bust, leaving 860,000 passengers stranded and drawing the ire of consumers and politicians alike.
Greybull will likely find similar anger directed at it in days to come with around 5,000 British Steel workers and up to 25,000 jobs in the supply chain at risk if no buyer can be found for the company.
In both cases, the private equity company has pointed to several years of successful operations under its ownership and highlighted external pressures over which it had no control.
For British Steel, a tougher steel market outlook was compounded by the impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, both on sterling and the company’s ability to meet its emissions trading obligations.
On Wednesday, Greybull said it had worked hard to save the company, but the additional Brexit-related pressures had proved insurmountable.
Greybull investments past and present:
NEW ERA - 2010
Greybull remains an investor in the U.S. petroleum company.
PLESSEY SEMICONDUCTORS LTD - 2010
Remains an investor in the Plymouth-based company and has financed subsequent acquisitions.
RILEYS - 2012
Greybull bought the UK sports bar and snooker hall chain out of administration. After a restructuring, it re-entered administration in 2014. Restructured yet again, it continues under new ownership.
METALRAX/ARC - 2013
Paid more than 8 million pounds for the baking equipment manufacturer. Metalrax was renamed Arc following the acquisition and the business was successfully turned around and sold and continues trading.
CONSTAR - 2014
Paid 4.3 million pounds for the plastic bottle maker. Sold to a trade buyer.
MONARCH - 2014
Paid 50 million pounds for 90 percent of the airline. Entered administration in 2017.
M LOCAL - 2015
Backed a 25 million pound buyout of the British retail chain. Entered administration nine months later.
BRITISH STEEL - 2016
Paid 1 pound to buy Long Products Europe from Tata Steel Europe. Declared insolvent May 23.
REDEEM - 2018
Took a majority stake in the mobile phone recycling company for an undisclosed sum.
ASCOVAL - 2019
Bought the French steel maker out of administration.
Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Kirsten Donovan