Nicola Sturgeon says Scottish ministers may take over firms facing Covid-19 collapse

The Scottish Government may be ready to take ownership of struggling firms to help them weather the economic crisis resulting from Coronavirus lockdown.

Prestwick Airport is among firms that have previously been taken over the Scottish Government
Prestwick Airport is among firms that have previously been taken over the Scottish Government

The proposal is among the key recommendations of the Scottish Government's Advisory Group on Economic Recovery which published its findings today.

The report, authored by former Tesco Bank chief Benny Higgins, says the Scottish Government should build its professional capability to "manage ownership stakes in private businesses" which are likely to arise out of the crisis.

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The recommendation met with a positive reception from Nicola Sturgeon at her daily Coronavirus briefing today.

The Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd yard with ferry Glen Sannox

"We will look positively at whether Government intervention, including taking a stake in companies, can help keep productive companies that have a future beyond this crisis from going bust," the First Minister said.

"I'm not going to link my answer to any specific companies, it would not be appropriate to do that.”

"I would point to the interventionist approach that the Scottish Government has already taken in the last few years."

Ministers have previously taken ownership of Prestwick Airport and Ferguson Marine to save them from the threat of closure.

Ms Sturgeon added: "We have been prepared to intervene either with stakes or innovative financial interventions to try to stop companies from going out of business. We will be open minded to that."

But she warned that the Scottish Government does operate within constraints of state aid and the need to ensure vale for taxpayers money.

"There is always a very rigorous assessment that has to be done before we come to decisions like that but we will be open-minded and as inventive and creative as possible as we steer our way through this crisis."

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