Glasgow & West Scotland

Buyers express interest in nationalised shipyard

Ferguson shipyard and Newark Castle Image copyright Getty Images

A number of potential private buyers have expressed an interest in the nationalised Ferguson shipyard.

Administrators for the Port Glasgow yard have held talks with several potential buyers and said they were "encouraged" by the interest so far.

The shipyard is operating under a management agreement with administrators, which will see the Scottish government buy Ferguson if no private buyer comes forward.

About 300 people work at the yard.

Ferguson went into administration following a dispute with Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd - which buys and leases CalMac ships on behalf of the Scottish government - over the construction of two £97m ferries.

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay has said details of a "robust delivery schedule" for the CalMac ferries must be announced by the end of October.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Glen Sannox vessel has been awaiting completion at the yard since its launch

The Scottish government has made two loans to Ferguson Marine, totalling £45m, and what happens to these remains unclear.

A spokesman for joint administrator Deloitte, who refused to be drawn on how many interested parties the firm had spoken to, said it was working hard to determine if a commercially-viable solution for the yard could be identified.

He added: "The joint administrators are undertaking a sale process and are actively engaged in discussions with a number of potentially-interested parties, however it is early in the process and therefore it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this stage.

"We have been encouraged by the level of interest in the yard so far but would encourage any remaining parties who may have an interest to contact us."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An order for CalMac ferries has been at the centre of a very public dispute which ended with Ferguson Marine going into administration

When the Port Glasgow shipyard went into administration on 16 August the Scottish government agreed to take control of the facility under a management agreement with administrators.

This deal means Scottish ministers will buy Ferguson Marine if no private buyer is found within four weeks of the date of the firm going into administration.

The monthly wage bill for workers at the yard is being met from Scottish government funds and a new board has been put in place to come up with a plan to finish the delayed CalMac ferries.

'A viable yard'

At the time of the administration being announced, Deloitte described the ferry contract as being "materially behind schedule and over budget".

The GMB union's Scotland organiser Gary Cook said: "This is a process which we are fully aware of but whether the long-term future of the yard is under nationalisation or new ownership, the challenges remain exactly the same.

"This is a viable yard with a first-class workforce but it requires a proper industrial plan to ensure its future prosperity.

"The Scottish government has recognised the workforce must be front and centre in the delivery of it because the mistakes of the past cannot be repeated.

"We are confident that with vision and competency the future of Ferguson Marine will be a bright one as we get on with the business of building the ships Scotland needs."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Ministers remain committed to the completion of vessels, securing jobs, and working towards finding a solution to support future shipbuilding at the site.

"Deloitte, as administrator, is currently going through the process of market testing for a private buyer. We will also start work to determine the optimal structure for the yard to ensure its long-term future.

"Our first priority is to establish a new delivery programme to ensure the completion of the CMAL ferry contracts."