Ferguson Marine shipyard taken into public ownership

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The Ferguson Marine shipyard has been formally taken into public ownership, the Scottish government has announced.

The move came after administrators agreed final terms for the transaction with Scottish ministers.

In the autumn, administrators from Deloitte concluded public ownership was in the best interests of the creditors, despite receiving three commercial bids.

The Port Glasgow yard will now be known as Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Ltd.

About 300 people currently work there.

Ferguson went into administration following a dispute with Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd - which buys and leases CalMac ships on behalf of the Scottish government - over the construction of two ferries under a £97m fixed price contract.

At the time of the administration being announced, Deloitte described the contract as being “materially behind schedule and over budget”.

It remains unclear when the ferries will eventually enter service.

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Image caption

An order for CalMac ferries was at the centre of a dispute

In August, the Scottish government began operating the yard under a management agreement with the administrators.

About £50m of taxpayer loans to Ferguson Marine were written off.

Almost all of the £97m bill for the ships has already been paid to Ferguson Marine, and the Scottish government has kept paying the shipyard’s running costs, including its wage bill, following administration.

Jim McColl, the industrialist who saved the shipyard from administration in 2014, said before the company was put into the hands of administrators in the summer, that the final cost of the two ships was likely to be double the contract price.

He blamed this on multiple changes being required by the client for the innovative design features required for hybrid-powered ships, running on diesel and on liquefied natural gas.

‘Step forward’

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “We have been working for over two years to find a resolution to the difficulties at Ferguson Marine and our priorities remain the completion of the two CalMac ferries, protecting jobs, and securing a future for the yard.

“In the absence of a workable commercial solution the administrators have concluded that public ownership is in the best interests of the creditors.

“Now that this has been confirmed, I am determined that we continue to work closely with everyone at the yard to progress work on the vessels and achieve the best possible outcome for the yard and its employees.”

Mr Mackay added: “Recruiting more staff to Ferguson Marine is a significant step forward in making this happen.

“Establishing a revised timetable for the completion of the two ferries also remains one of the main tasks for the management at the yard and I will give an update on the schedule and cost for delivery of the two ferries as soon as possible.”