Ferranti names GEC as preferred bidder

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The Independent Online
Ferranti's receivers yesterday named GEC as the preferred bidder for the collapsed group's defence systems and simulation and training divisions, which employ 1,100 people. The move means that two of the group's biggest divisions will probably be incorporated after all in the deal with GEC, which withdrew from a bid for the whole group four months ago.

John Talbot and Murdoch McKillop of Arthur Andersen are to negotiate exclusively with GEC. A team of Ferranti senior managers, led by Phil Burton, which announced in December that it was bidding for these divisions said that its due diligence procedures had been postponed but that its bid remained on the table.

It is understood that GEC's offer, of about pounds 100m, was well above the buyout team's bid.

Ferranti's receivership was triggered at the beginning of December by GEC's decision not to buy the whole company for 1p a share, having decided there were 'black holes' in the accounts.

Arthur Andersen made 630 of the 3,000 employees redundant in December and has been negotiating with a number of potential buyers of the business.

Ferranti's defence operation is based at Bracknell, Newport Pagnell and Portsmouth, and employs 570 workers. The simulation and training business, based at Cwmbran, Cheadle Heath in Cheshire and Totnes in Devon, has 540 employees.

Separate negotiations covering Ferranti's civil business at Wythenshawe (535 workers), component manufacturing business in Oldham (515) and satellite communications business in Poynton, Cheshire (100) are continuing with 'other interested parties'. These are believed to include Thomson of France.

The Manufacturing Science and Finance union, which has 500 members at Ferranti, welcomed yesterday's news.

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