Sheffield hums over big steel job

Scotland and some of northern England's pockets of unemployment will benefit from one of the biggest steel plant orders ever placed in Europe by an overseas customer.

The steel complex, which has been ordered by the Indian government, is worth a total of (STR)1.25 billion ($2.25 billion) and will be shipped to India over a four-year period. Britain's Davy Corporation in Sheffield will share the hefty contract from the Steel Authority of India, in partnership with CGEE Alsthom of France and Man-GHH of West Germany.

The international financiers Lazard Brothers, a German bank, and a French investor will provide the project's capital.

The Indian order, which was won against fierce foreign competition, is worth more than (STR)550 million to Britain and comes at a time when the United Kingdom's engineering industry has been experiencing rampant layoffs.

Ironically, the U.K. workers in the Midlands, the north of England, and Scotland who will be kept busy over the next few years on the project may find a ''boomerang'' effect when the Indian plant starts the production of 1.3 million tons of steel annually and looks less to Britain and Europe for metal supplies. Yet the U.K. contract will help an important part of Britain's ailing engineering industry survive and modernize with the help of overseas payments.

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