Astra sale defended: Rumbling over BAe purchase

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL JORDAN, senior partner at the leading insolvency firm Cork Gully, has defended its decision to sell one of Britain's largest munitions manufacturers to British Aerospace for pounds 8m, following claims from failed bidders that they were prepared to offer more.

In a letter to to one of the bidders, Graham Rushworth, Mr Jordan writes that the 'administrative receivers exercised their independent commercial judgement to achieve a sale at the best price on the offers made to them, and the evidence clearly demonstrates this judgement was made properly and correctly'.

Mr Rushworth had complained to Mr Jordan that Cork Gully did not give due consideration to his consortium's offer for BMARC, a former subsidiary of Astra, the collapsed UK defence company. He claims that his consortium offered pounds 12.7m for the company and was prepared to increase the cash element of that bid to match British Aerospace.

But Mr Jordan says that Mr Rushworth's offer, made on behalf of an Anglo-Austrian consortium, was the only one that did not include a firm cash figure for BMARC's stocks.

Mr Rushworth has replied to Mr Jordan, stating that 'my own view is that your firm, for whatever reason, chose to favour Royal Ordnance plc (a subsidiary of British Aerospace).

'We are considering, therefore, what further remedies are open to us.'

The Office of Fair Trading is investigating the sale, which gives British Aerospace a virtual monopoly of the UK munitions market.