£1 offered for ailing TransTec

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The Independent Online

Arthur Andersen, the receivers of TransTec, the engineering business founded by Geoffrey Robinson, has secured only one firm bid for any of the group's automotive businesses - and that is for just £1.

The shocking fact emerged after Andersen saw off a legal challenge to its stewardship of the company from Ford, the giant motor group that is TransTec's leading customer.

Ford had objected to demands from Andersen for up to £65m to continue supplying it. TransTec is one of Ford's main suppliers, with its Northern Irish operations crucial to the Voyager people mover.

The motor giant went to court to have Andersen removed and a liquidator appointed. However Mr Justice Jacob threw the challenge out and said the receiver's approach was "entirely proper".

The receivers, who were appointed at Christmas, have argued that the low prices Ford pays its suppliers means it is unable to sell TransTec's business for acceptable prices.

Talks with PhilDrew Ventures, the private capital firm, to sell TransTec's main operations in the Midlands foundered after PhilDrew found it impossible to make a profit on the Ford business.

No other bidders have emerged, and the only offer TransTec has received is for its Campsie plant in Ulster, and that was worth only £1.

Andersen then turned to Ford for help, telling the motor group it needed to pay more for its parts or give TransTec receivers a lump sum so they could afford to sell off the businesses for a song. Ford refused and the case ended up in court.

The receivers have told the Independent on Sunday that they now hope to bring Ford to the negotiating table, and expect the sorry saga will be settled amicably without further job losses.