Two BiFab yards bought out of administration

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·5-min read

Two of the three BiFab yards have been bought out of administration.

Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab), which has yards in Burntisland and Methil in Fife and one on the Isle of Lewis, went into administration at the end of last year after Scottish Government ministers ruled out nationalising the company.

Harland & Wolff (Methil) Limited, a subsidiary of InfraStrata Plc, has now taken on the Methil and Lewis sites in an £850,000 deal.

BiFab entered administration in December, two years after a deal in which Canadian firm DF Barnes acquired the business for just £4.

BiFab yard
The BiFab yards had previously been involved in work to build wind turbines (PA)

The Scottish Government, which became a minority shareholder in BiFab, went on to invest £37 million in it.

John Wood, chief executive of InfraStrata, said: “With this acquisition we now have a footprint in Scotland, which is the hotbed for major wind farm projects as well as for shipbuilding programmes.

“I wish to warmly welcome the personnel whom we have taken on at Methil and Arnish and I am confident that we will turn these facilities into highly successful businesses that generate jobs and investment into their local economies in due course.”

Gavin Park, restructuring director at administrators Deloitte, said: “We are pleased to have agreed a sale of the business and the majority of the assets of BiFab to InfraStrata.

“This includes the transfer of all employees and licenses to occupy sites in Methil and on the Isle of Lewis. We wish them every success in the future.”

Scottish Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This is a welcome development for the future of the workforce. The Scottish Government’s priority has been to support BiFab’s workers and I welcome the announcement that a buyer has been found.

“The workforce has an important role to play in the future of manufacturing in Scotland and I look forward to working with the new owner as it forges a new future for the company.

“This is welcome news for the local communities in Fife and the Western Isles.

“The Scottish Government will also engage with Forth Ports, the owner of the Burntisland yard, to help secure the best possible outcome for that yard.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The UK is a world leader in offshore wind with more installed capacity than any other country.

“Our offshore wind capacity is set to grow rapidly to meet our ambition to power every home in the country by 2030, while supporting up to 60,000 jobs.

“Ensuring Britain’s skilled workforce and supply chain can fully share in the offshore wind sector’s success is a key priority for the UK Government.

“The industry has set a target of increasing UK content to 60% and we are consulting on the introduction of more stringent supply chain requirements for developers.

“We continue to support the Scottish Government to achieve a positive outcome, and welcome this news that the administration process has secured a buyer for the Methil and Arnish sites.”

Trade unions also welcomed the deal, but called for more support for the offshore wind sector – in which the BiFab yards had previously been involved.

Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith said: “We have always believed that the BiFab yards, and indeed yards and ports all over Scotland, are uniquely placed to capture the benefits of the offshore wind sector.

“However, the story so far has been one of government failure – thousands of jobs and billions of pounds have been outsourced around the world when Scottish communities should have been benefitting from these contracts.

“Now the Scottish and UK governments have been given a reprieve and they need to step up and support the new ownership.”

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “We will continue to press for a solution for the Burntisland yard which is not included in this deal.

“This is just the start of our battle for a plan for jobs in manufacturing and renewables in Scotland.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and Fife MSP Willie Rennie said: “The purchase of the BiFab assets at Methil and Arnish could be good news for workers, but we need to be cautious until we see the full plans, investment and commitment from the new owners InfraStrata.

“Given sight of those plans, we of course stand ready to support the recovery and growth of these infrastructure assets.

“The potential is great with all the new wind farms on the verge of construction off the shores of Scotland, but the yards need significant investment to make them competitive with yards from the Far East.”

Scottish Labour economy spokesman Alex Rowley said: “It is of the upmost importance that the new employers engage with the trade unions and ensure that fair work values underpin the futures of the sites.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scottish ministers have been calling for some time on the UK Government to reform the contract for difference process and make greater use of supply chain plans within the process, rather than allocate contracts solely on price, removing a perceived loophole to ensure greater use of domestic renewable energy supply chains.

“We therefore welcome the UK Government’s recent consultation on the use of supply chain plans and urge them to use this as an opportunity to make the changes necessary to ensure more work for the domestic supply chain.”