As yard's debts revealed...

McColl in new offer to ministers over Ferguson’s future


Ferguson Marine: awaiting a new owner

Engineering tycoon Jim McColl is offering to work with the Scottish Government to resume operations at Ferguson Marine.

Mr McColl lost control of the Clydeside yard last month after it collapsed under a mountain of debt.

After abandoning a new bid along with an overseas company, Mr McColl is now proposing a “joint arrangement” with ministers so that the company can complete two ferry orders and pick up other work.

His latest approach emerged as new figures reveal that the Port Glasgow yard collapsed with debts of more than £70 million owing the Scottish Government £49.7m – £5m more than previously understood.

Administrator Deloitte says HM Revenue and Customs is due a further £426,000 while the European Commission has lodged a claim for £1m.

More than 300 workers are owed £164,000 in overtime, holiday pay and pension contributions.

Mr McColl, the boss of Clyde Blowers Capital and a government economic adviser, rescued the yard from administration in 2014.

His firm is due £3m while creditors, including a number of local companies, are currently £3.9m out of pocket.

Ferguson got into difficulty because of a £97m order for two new dual-fuel CalMac ferries placed by Scottish Government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets, which is also based in Port Glasgow.

The unfinished vessels, MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, are now valued at £48.3m, which is less than half the original value of the contract.

They should have entered service last year but are only partially-built and now expected to cost double the £97m set-price agreed with CMAL.

The unfinished ships account for half the £97.7m value of Ferguson Marine’s total assets, according to Deloitte’s report.

Scottish ministers provided £45m worth of commercial loans to the yard which has been in administration since 16 August after the government struck a deal to take control of the business and retain the workforce until a buyer is found.

If no commercial operator emerges, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has committed to nationalising the yard to save jobs and complete the CalMac vessels.

The government is paying the workers’ wages while the sale process continues. Mr McColl abandoned plans for a joint venture with a major overseas shipbuilder because of lack of time to prepare a bid.

However, he now says he would be interested in talking to ministers about some sort of joint arrangement for the yard that would involve setting up a separate company to complete the two CalMac ferries.

Mr McColl said this would allow the firm to focus on other contracts that could otherwise be lost to the yard.

He has blamed repeated design changes and other bureaucracy for the spiralling costs of the unfinished order.

Ferguson shipyard is part of the winning partnership that won the £1.25 billion contract to build five Type 31 frigates for the Royal Navy.

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