Business

The Chinese owner of Stemcor, the historic British steel trader, is exploring a sale less than a year after it last changed hands.

Sky News has learnt that Stemcor, which was founded by the father of Dame Margaret Hodge, the veteran Labour MP, has been the subject of discussions about a fresh change of ownership in recent weeks.

The company, which is now headquartered in Jersey, has been owned by ShouYe Holdings, a Hong Kong-based entity, since last July.

It was previously part of Cedar Holdings Group, a mainland Chinese company which was reported early last year to be struggling to repay its debts.

Stemcor was founded in 1951 by Hans Oppenheimer, a German immigrant to the UK who built it into an international powerhouse in steel trading and stockholding.

However, it ran into financial difficulty after the 2008 financial crisis, and was forced into a radical debt restructuring.

It was ultimately split into two companies, with the other – Moorgate Industries – principally comprising assets in India.

Dame Margaret, a long-standing critic of the tax avoidance tactics employed by multinational companies, was reported in 2015 to have been a beneficiary of the winding-up of a Liechtenstein foundation which held shares in Stemcor.

She said at the time that she had “paid all relevant taxes in full”.

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Neither she nor any members of her family hold any residual interest in Stemcor.

Stemcor declined to comment.

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