A closure-threatened engineering firm has been taken over by a Canadian company in a move which is hoped will save hundreds of jobs.
Workers at BiFab marine engineering yards in Fife and Lewis had been facing the threat of redundancy after the company ran into financial difficulties.
On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Canadian company JV Driver, through its subsidiary DF Barnes, had acquired BiFab.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We are delivering on the commitment I made last year that we would stand by BiFab and work to secure a long-term future for the company.
“We have been in negotiations with DF Barnes for a number of months and today is a significant step forward in our efforts to restore BiFab to its place at the centre of Scotland’s marine energy industry.”
She added: “DF Barnes’ acquisition is a key milestone for all three BiFab yards and as a sign of our commitment to the company’s future, the Scottish Government will maintain a close interest by taking a minority shareholding in the company.
“There is a lot of hard work ahead, and there is no magic bullet for these yards, but the commitment of DF Barnes to securing a new future for the business at Burntisland, Methil and Arnish is a hugely positive step and I believe that gives BiFab the best chance of winning future contracts and securing new work.”
The company was saved from administration last year after the Scottish Government issued a loan of £15 million to ensure it could meet its commercial commitments and deadlines.
DF Barnes CEO Jason Fudge said: “Scotland has been an admired world leader in the offshore oil and gas and renewable energy sectors, and we are delighted to join with the employees of BiFab and the people of Scotland to ensure the continued growth of BiFab for the benefit of all. This is a great day for us.”
Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “This agreement gives the workforce, the company and the government the best possible chance of securing a vibrant future for these yards.
“As the current contract comes to an end, and while efforts go into winning new work, there will continue to be difficult times for the yard and there can be no guarantees that contracts will be won but I am confident this agreement, which sees the Scottish Government become a minority shareholder in the company, will deliver for BiFab’s future in Fife and the Western Isles.”
JV Driver is one of Canada’s largest independently-owned industrial construction companies.
Its subsidiary DF Barnes has been a consistent employer in the oil and gas, fabrication and marine industries for over 80 years.
As part of the agreement, the Scottish Government will take a minority shareholding in the new company to demonstrate continued commitment to supporting the future of the yard.