Harland & Wolff attracts number of interested bidders, administrators confirm

Deadline for bids for the ailing shipyard was noon on Friday

Harland & Wolff has attracted a number of interested bidders who have engaged in "positive discussions" which could enable the business to be sold as a "going concern", administrators to the ailing shipyard have confirmed.

No details have emerged about the identity of the potential buyers who trade unions said were to provide details of their prospective bids to the joint administrators from BDO Northern Ireland by noon on Friday.

It is understood a number of new parties also came forward on Friday morning to express a possible interest in purchasing the yard.

Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy, who were appointed as the joint administrators of Harland & Wolff Group plc and Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd 10 days ago, said they hoped their discussions with various interested groups "may result in credible offers".


The joint administrators have also confirmed that as a result of these discussions they intended to extend an arrangement, which should have expired on Friday, that will maintain the “unpaid temporary lay off” of the Harland & Wolff workforce.

Temporarily laid off

A small number of the shipyard’s former workers have been engaged by the administrators to maintain the site and help them with their work, but the majority of its former 130 workers – many of whom are involved in a round-the-clock protest outside the historic yard’s gates – are temporarily laid off without pay.

Mr Jennings and Mr Murphy have previously said their priority was to “find a viable, commercial solution” for Harland & Wolff.

Susan Fitzgerald, the regional co-ordinating officer with the trade union Unite, said while unions believe the best option for the yard – which built the Titanic – was that it would be renationalised by the UK government, latest developments were "positive".

“We’re in a transformed situation compared to where we were when the yard went into administration and some people believed that the workers should just walk out and Harland & Wolff would be sold to a brand stripper.

“What we want to see are serious bidders who have the funds and the money to acquire the whole of the yard and all of the workforce and going forward invest in the yard and the workforce and deliver for Northern Ireland.

“A win for us is saving Harland & Wolff and the jobs and skills in the yard,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

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