With the acquisition of French rail manufacturer Sogerail, British Steel has become the largest track manufacturer in Europe.
The £83m deal gives British Steel’s existing rail business – based at Workington in Cumbria – access to new markets in France, the US and South America.
The acquisition will also add long-rolled rail for high-speed trains and grooved rails for urban transport systems to its product range.
The deal will mean more stability for the company, according to analyst Ken Hughes of Credit Lyonnais Securities.
`The market is based on long-term relationships with railway firms. It is quite conservative compared to, say, the hot-rolled coil spot market,’ he said.
British Steel’s rail business employs 460 people at Workington and 740 at other sites in the UK, and recorded total sales of 220,000 tonnes last year.
Sogerail employs 520 and sold 300,000 tonnes over the same period.