Former Rangers owner Sir David Murray in talks to purchase Scottish steel plants


Murray in talks for several weeks over plants in Motherwell and Cambuslang where 270 jobs are threatened by closure

THE CONTROVERSIAL former Rangers owner and business tycoon Sir David Murray has revealed he is in talks with the Scottish Government and Tata Steel over the purchase of threatened steel works in Motherwell and Cambuslang.

The news comes after weeks of insecurity for workers at the two plants which are the only surviving significant works in Scotland. 270 jobs are expected to be lost at the plants, with another 900 set to go at Tata steel plant in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire in England, if no buyer is found.

Quoted in the Scotsman , Murray said: “Having been involved in the industry for more than 40 years – and the plant at Dalzell is one of my main suppliers – it is obvious that I would be concerned, as both a customer and as an employer, over what I could do to assist in helping to preserve such iconic brands.

“Four weeks ago I spoke to Scottish Government ministers. Meetings followed and further discussions have since taken place. I also met officials from Tata Steel in London, on Tuesday, 3 November.”

However Murray also stressed the difficulty of the position faced by the steel plants, indicating he may be contemplating cuts at the plants even in the event he did purchase them.

He said: “I will continue dialogue and to assist where practical, however, no one should underestimate the gravity of the difficult challenges that lie ahead.”

The magnate, who established his position in the business community at the age of 23 with his Murray International Metals company which traded in structural steel, has had a turbulent career. He purchased Rangers in 1988 for PS6m but eventually sold his majority stake in the troubled club to Craig Whyte for PS1.

In early November the court of session upheld an HMRC appeal over PS75m in unpaid debt, the result of tax evasion which led to the liquidation of the club . The court found against the Rangers parent company Murray Group Holdings.

Murray and his array of companies and business interests were badly hit during the economic crisis, during which he lost the majority of his own private wealth. However, in October 2013 it emerged that Murray’s investment vehicle Murray Capital Group had recorded a pre-tax profit of PS13.6m up from PS48,000 for the previous year.

A steel taskforce, which includes representatives for the Scottish Government, employers and workers in the steel industry, is seeking a buyer for the plant.

Picture courtesy of Paul Macrae