Two bids to buy Harland and Wolff ‘valid and credible’: Gavin Robinson

DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson after he met administrators from BDO Northern Ireland where he said that two bids to buy Harland and Wolff are "valid and credible"
DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson after he met administrators from BDO Northern Ireland where he said that two bids to buy Harland and Wolff are "valid and credible"
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Two bids to buy Belfast’s struggling shipyard are “valid and credible”, the local MP has said.

Harland and Wolff recently entered administration, threatening around 125 jobs.

DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson met administrators from BDO Northern Ireland yesterday.

He said: “It is incredibly encouraging to hear that not only is there private interest but there is investment potential, that the bidders recognise the skills and the assets of Harland and Wolff shipyard and want to run it as a going concern.

“So, from that perspective, the administrators outlined a very positive mood in the meeting today.”

Mr Robinson added: “The administrator is going to have to take the next number of weeks to drill through those bids and to work with those bidders to secure a positive future for the yard.”

Those overseeing the process recently allowed further time to explore potential rescue deals for the shipyard.

BDO announced the continuation of a temporary unpaid lay-off of the workforce to facilitate ongoing “positive discussions” with would-be buyers.

While the workers are no longer getting paid, the lay-off means their contracts of employment remain unbroken.

Mr Robinson confirmed the administrators had secured two bids from valid and credible bidders who wanted to invest in the yard.

He said: “The process the administrator is going through is the right one. He is out in the market, he has sought valid bids.

“There is investment there for Harland and Wolff interested in securing not only the assets but the skilled workforce that we know Harland and Wolff has, and that is a positive thing.

“It is something we want to continue our engagement with the administrator and the unions on.”

The shipyard went into administration after Norwegian parent company, Dolphin Drilling, failed to find a buyer.

The shipbuilder employed more than 30,000 people during Belfast’s industrial heyday but that workforce numbered only around 125 when the company went into administration.

The business had diversified away from shipbuilding in the last two decades and until recently had primarily worked on wind energy and marine engineering projects.

Workers, who have occupied the site for weeks as part of a campaign to save their jobs, have called on the government to rescue the operation through nationalisation.