British Steel, the country's second largest steel producer, has collapsed and put 25,000 jobs at risk after failing to secure emergency government funding.
The High Court has ordered the compulsory liquidation of the company, although staff will remain employed for now as the liquidator oversees the operation of the main site in Scunthorpe, northern England.
Business Minister Greg Clark said British Steel was open to new buyers, while the opposition Labour Party called on the government to bring it back into public ownership.
Owned by investment firm Greybull Capital, British Steel employs around 5000 people, mostly in Scunthorpe, while 20,000 more depend on its supply chain.
Greybull Capital, which specialises in trying to turn around distressed businesses, said it had tried to keep British Steel alive but the challenges of Britain's looming exit from the EU proved insurmountable.
Greybull paid former owners Tata Steel a nominal one pound for the company three years ago.
After being renamed as British Steel, the company made a profit in 2017 but cut around 400 jobs last year, blaming factors such as the weak pound and uncertainties surrounding Brexit, which it said hammered its order book.
Australian Associated Press