A COMPANY chief last night dispelled rumours that he has dropped his bid to take over a troubled steelworks.

Les Graham, managing director of the Anglo Swedish group, said he was still talking to administrators about taking over the 140-year-old Weardale Steel plant, in Wolsingham.

He said: "There are several problems to sort out. I hope to make an announcement about our plans for Weardale Steel in the near future."

Mr Graham had said in The Northern Echo on Saturday that he hoped to be in control of the firm by Tuesday.

But that was before he discovered there were "several niggling problems" involving several parties concerned in the sale.

However, he denied there was any question of the group dropping out of its bid to take over the company.

Philip Revill, senior partner with administrators Poppleton and Appleby, of Sheffield, said: "There are still several formalities to be dealt with. But we are hoping to make an announcement about the future of Weardale Steel very shortly."

Meanwhile, five former workers have been recruited by the administrators to keep the works ticking over.