ONE OF the four parties bidding to rescue the troubled Ferguson’s shipyard has pulled out, saying rival prospective buyer Jim McColl is “better equipped” to take the yard forward.
Four potential buyers including tycoon Mr McColl submitted bids for the site, which fell into the hands of administrators last week.
But the owners of McGill’s Buses, Rangers directors James and Sandy Easdale, last night said they would not continue and would instead step aside to allow Mr McColl to take over the firm – the last commercial shipyard on the Clyde.
A spokesman for the Easdales said they had told the administrators their sole aim had been to save the yard – and if any of the remaining bids fall down, then they would be willing to rejoin the process.
Blair Nimmo of KPMG yesterday said he was “confident” a rescuer would be found for the Port Glasgow yard, but could not guarantee that all 77 workers would retain their jobs.
It emerged yesterday that Mr McColl, founder and chairman of Clyde Blowers, was behind one of the four bid packages submitted by Thursday’s 5pm deadline – alongside the Easdales and two mystery parties. But Mr Nimmo warned that how many – if any – of the at-risk positions would be saved would depend on which buyer is selected.
Administrators are expected to spend the weekend considering the remaining three bids and a deal is due to be announced by the middle of next week. “You can never guarantee until the deal is done but we are fairly confident that we will be able to secure a buyer,” said Mr Nimmo.
“However, the jobs are a different issue. Clearly at the moment, we don’t have any employees. It will be up to them what they want to do after the sale and what they can do to the yard. All of that will be determined by the purchaser when they get there and whether they can keep some of the jobs.”
Bidder Mr McColl said he was committed to investing in the yard, which has been in operation since 1902.
“You are going to have to get into investing many millions immediately in the site to bring it up to modern-day standards,” he said. “I have been out to look at the site. We know exactly what we have to do.”
A spokesman for Sandy and James Easdale said the brothers had spoken to Mr McColl “at length”. “The Easdale brothers are delighted that a businessman with Jim McColl’s engineering background is keen to take over the yard,” he said.
“We are informed that our bid is competitive and has reached the shortlist but we feel that Jim McColl is better equipped to take the yard forward. We said all along that we would step aside if somebody with an engineering pedigree and access to markets wanted to get involved. Our only interest has been to save the yard and as many jobs as possible.”
Companies House records have revealed yard owner Alan Dunnet transferred assets belonging to the struggling firm to another company he owns just months before Ferguson’s fell into the hands of administrators.
Land and buildings belonging to the yard were sold off to his other firm Holland House – and may have to be bought or leased back by the new owner of the firm.