Future of shipyard more secure after suitors InfraStrata raise £6m

The future of the Harland & Wolff shipyard appears more secure after InfraStrata agreed a conditional contract to complete the £6m acquisition by December
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BELFAST shipyard's future is seemingly more secure after a purchase deal by London-based InfraStrata moved a step closer yesterday.

The energy firm has agreed a conditional contract and aims to complete the £6m acquisition by December 5, according to administrators Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy from BDO.

They were appointed on August 6 to run Harland & Wolff Group Plc and Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd after its Norwegian parent company collapsed, putting 120 jobs at risk.

InfraStrata - which is currently planning a gas storage facility at Islandmagee - revealed on Sunday that had commenced an accelerated book-build - a process often used when a company is in immediate need of financing - to raise £6 million.

Yesterday its chief executive John Wood said: “We are very pleased with the result of the placing bookbuild as this will provides us with the necessary capital to complete the acquisition of the Harland and Wolff assets.”

InfraStrata will initially focus on metal fabrication for its energy projects.

Mr Wood added: “The company is now on the cusp of a transformational change. Along with the cost savings that will accrue to the Islandmagee gas storage project, this multi-purpose fabrication facility in the heart of Belfast is expected to provide multiple revenue streams.

“Upon completion of the acquisition, we will seek to enter into contracts as soon as possible with a view to kick-starting revenue generation, which will be a significant milestone in our history.

“We are bullish about the acquisition as it provides immediate and near-term revenue generating opportunities as well as significantly increasing the value of the company's balance sheet.”

Administrators BDO said: “Following the entering of heads of terms on October 1, Harland & Wolff has entered into a conditional contract with InfraStrata with the intent of completing a sale by December 5, and if it doesn't occur by this target date, completion of the acquisition may be extended to January 7

“The agreed terms of sale include the transfer of the remaining employees on their existing terms and conditions to the purchaser therefore protecting and safeguarding the employment of the workforce.

“The purchaser has also agreed to fund the ongoing running costs of the shipyard for November and December if the completion date is extended.”

The team at BDO has been involved in the sale process for more than a year, and expressed its thanks to the staff at Harland & Wolff as well as to the Unite and GMB unions.

They said: “At all times we have been conscious of the important role Harland & Wolff plays in our economy and we believe a patient, cooperative and collaborative approach with all stakeholders has helped to positively progress matters to this stage and hopefully secure completion of this deal in the coming weeks.”

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