Harland and Wolff in official hands of administrators BDO

Historic shipyard ‘unable to continue trading’ as no buyer found

Harland and Wolff is officially in the hands of administrators from the business advisory firm BDO Northern Ireland.

Brian Murphy, managing partner of BDO Northern Ireland and Michael Jennings who is also a partner in the firm, have been appointed as joint administrators of Harland and Wolff.

In a statement the administrators confirmed that a buyer had not been found for the stricken shipyard and as a result it had been “unable to continue trading due to having insufficient funds following the recent insolvency of its ultimate parent”.

Last year the Belfast shipyard's owners at the time Dolphin Drilling ASA, formerly known as Fred Olsen Energy, put the yard on the market but was unable to secure a buyer.


Earlier this year Dolphin Drilling ASA was forced to file for bankruptcy and a new holding company, Dolphin Drilling Holdings Limited, which is incorporated in Jersey, was established.

At the time Harland and Wolff’s management said it was “business as usual” and it was still hopeful of completing the sale of the historic shipyard.

Trade union leaders from Unite said the Newry headquartered MJM Group had previously been involved in "exclusive negotiations" to acquire Harland and Wolff, but had "abruptly" pulled out two weeks ago.

The MJM Group has not commented on these claims.

Employee protest

Following its appointment on Tuesday BDO said it had “engaged immediately with Harland and Wolff employees and other stakeholders to take all necessary steps to ensure they are supported throughout the administration process.”

Shipyard workers and their supporters continue to protest outside the gates of Harland and Wolff in east Belfast but from Tuesday they are no longer on the payroll of the yard.

According to union officials, all of Harland and Wolff’s 130 strong workforce have all received their last pay checks.

The North's Secretary of State, Julian Smith, is scheduled to hold a conference call with union leaders on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the latest developments at Harland and Wolff.

The Unite and GMB unions have said they are determined to make sure that a 'window for survival' remains open for the yard.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business