VT Group harbours desire for BAE's Clydeside shipyards

VT Group, the Southampton-based shipbuilder and services company, will this week throw its hat in the ring to acquire BAE's Clydeside shipyards.

VT Group, the Southampton-based shipbuilder and services company, will this week throw its hat in the ring to acquire BAE's Clydeside shipyards.

The company, formerly known as Vosper Thornycroft, is due to make the announcement on Tuesday when it presents its full-year results.

BAE unexpectedly lifted a "for sale" sign over its naval division last month. This includes the submarine assembly plant at Barrow-in-Furness in northwest England and two Clydeside yards at Govan and Scotstoun.

VT's chief executive, Paul Lester, will reveal an interest in the Clydeside plants. He is expected to say he is also interested in support contracts related to the construction of the Type 45 destroyer for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Analysts have estimated that BAE's naval businesses could be worth £350m to £400m.

BAE, represented by investment bank Goldman Sachs, has held informal talks with a number of companies about its shipyards. As well as VT, the list includes American defence giant General Dynamics and France's Thales.

However, a sale to VT would be the easiest to execute. The Government holds a "golden share" in BAE that would allow it to block any sale. Analysts believe the MoD and the Department of Trade and Industry won't favour a disposal to a foreign bidder.

Tuesday's results will mark a high point for VT. Since arriving at the company nearly two years ago, Mr Lester has expanded VT's support services operation, which now accounts for 80 per cent of its turnover.

The company is growing its education and training divisions and bidding for more US contracts. It is expected to post full-year pre-tax profits of £46m, up £4.5m from last year.

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