About 2,000 jobs at a major UK steel works on Teesside could be under threat amid doubts over its sale to an Italian company.

In January, Corus agreed to sell a majority stake in the Redcar plant to a consortium led by Marcegaglia for £328?million but the Italian firm is now going cold on the deal, according to reports.

The chairman, Stena Marcegaglia, is said to have decided the deal no longer makes sense amid gloomy prospects for the global steel industry with an estimated 15 per cent fall in world output this year.

Reports said Mr Marcegaglia believes it would be better to pay a penalty fee to break the sale agreement than go ahead when the steel industry is set to be burdened with overcapacity for years to come.

The sale plans were announced by Corus three months ago alongside plans to cut 3,500 jobs from its worldwide workforce, including 2,500 in the UK.

Anglo-Dutch firm Corus, which has been owned by Indian conglomerate Tata since 2007, announced a series of cost-cutting measures including the mothballing of a mill in South Wales and restructuring several parts of its business.

Corus said then that the sale of Teesside Cast Products would “significantly improve” the long-term prospects of the business.

Corus and Marcegaglia were both unavailable for comment.