Fears grow for 1,000 jobs linked to construction firm Roadbridge

Company owes an estimated €30m to €35m to Bank of Ireland

Concerns grew on Thursday that efforts to rescue building group Roadbridge may fail, with fears for the future of around 1,000 construction jobs.

Advisors IBI Corporate Finance have been seeking an investor or buyer for Co Limerick-based Roadbridge, best known for work on motorways and other State projects, since last year.

Several sources confirmed that liquidation or receivership, where a bank or other creditor takes control of a business, looked the more likely options for the group, which employs around 1,000 people.

One individual close to the company said late yesterday that there was still a “chance” of a rescue.

Process

However, he acknowledged that, as of Thursday, one or other insolvency process looked the more likely outcome.

Local sources suggested that the company could make an announcement on its future on Friday, but others said that it would wait until next week.

It is understood that professional advisors have argued against the possibility of Roadbridge seeking High Court protection from creditors and appointing an examiner to oversee the business.

That would pave the way for new investment and a likely rescue, but financial analysts maintain that the group may be “too complex” and the risks too high for this to work.

Roadbridge owes an estimated €30 million to €35 million to Bank of Ireland, its main creditor, but also has mounting trade liabilities.

At the same time it has building contracts worth a total of €750 million over the next two-and-a-half to three years. Management hoped this would help attract investment or a buyer.

Roadbridge specialises in large projects worth tens or possibly hundreds of millions of euro each. Insiders say that it has traded on very tight profits, between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent, leaving little room for error or unforeseen risks.

Projects

The company lost money on several projects, including some in Scotland. Rising energy and building materials costs aggravated its difficulties through last year.

Founded and controlled by the Mulcair family, Roadbridge has operations in Ireland, Britain, Europe and has worked in the Middle East.

It was the joint main contractor on Dublin Airport’s new runway with FCC. The airstrip is now being tested ahead of coming into service this year.

Roadbridge was one of several well-known building companies involved in the construction of the Limerick Tunnel. The company has built motorways, wind farms, factories and data centres around the Republic.