Buyout bid emerges for Leyland truck plant

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A MANAGEMENT team at Leyland DAF's Lancashire truck plant yesterday put forward plans for a buyout of the business from the receivers, writes Michael Harrison.

The offer came as production at the factory restarted at last and was welcomed by Leyland DAF's unions as an opportunity to safeguard the plant's future.

John Gilchrist, managing director of the truck plant and the man leading the buyout, stressed that the success of the plan depended on getting a contract to supply the newly-formed DAF Trucks company in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Defence disclosed it was negotiating with the receivers over a pounds 400m contract for transporter vehicles being completed at the plant.

Dr Malcolm McIntosh, chief of defence procurement, told the Commons Public Accounts Committee: 'From the MoD's narrow perspective, it would be better for us if Leyland DAF stayed in production.'

Other members of the buyout team are John Oliver, the plant's head of truck operations, and Stewart Pierce, the personnel director. Their financial advisers are Coopers & Lybrand, the accountancy firm that is also acting for a buyout team at Leyland DAF's Birmingham van plant.

The Leyland plant specialises in lighter trucks such as the 45 series, while DAF Trucks will make only medium and heavy trucks. DAF Trucks, financed by a 500m guilder (pounds 192m) injection from the Dutch and Flemish governments and a banking consortium, has indicated its interest in buying trucks from Leyland to distribute through its Continental network.

John Allen, chief negotiator for the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, said the buyout plan was 'most welcome news' and had the unequivocal support of the unions.

A spokesman for the receivers, John Talbot and Murdoch McKillop of Arthur Andersen, said: 'We look forward to getting down to negotiations with the management buyout team to see what can be worked out. It is still early days yet.'