Swan yard deal raises hope of jobs

JOHN WILLCOCK

Financial Correspondent

Unions and receivers were jubilant last night at the 11th-hour rescue of the Swan Hunter shipyard by Hartlepool-based THC Group, which could create up to 600 jobs.

The sale forestalls an auction of the Wallsend yard on the Tyne and its remaining shipbuilding equipment scheduled for next week. Viewing for the 9,000 lots was due on Friday.

Henry Butcher & Co, auctioneers, expected to obtain at least pounds 3m for the equipment alone. Although Price Waterhouse, the receivers, refused to name the sale price, observers expect it is likely to be around the pounds 7.5m PW named as a minimum last year.

THC put in a bid last November which the receivers rejected, after a number of other proposed bids had fallen through. THC put its latest offer in just 12 days ago, and the speed of the deal means that the business plan is still at a preliminary stage.

Unions hope that up to 600 jobs will be created by new orders for oil production platorms for the North Sea. Such floating platforms use new technology that replaces the need for tall, stationary platforms previously in use.

THC aims to become the market leader and hopes for orders of up to 24 vessels at a cost of pounds 100m-pounds 150m each.

Glen Wilson, commercial manager at THC, said: "This current investment represents a commitment to our continued development in this industry. The management are confident that with the co-operation and support of the local community and the various regional and national agencies concerned with industrial development, a hugely successful operation will emerge."

While some reports yesterday put the potential for new jobs at 1,000, the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation put it "in the hundreds, depending on how the yard wins orders".

Alistair Balls, TWDC's chief executive, said it had contributed pounds 500,000 towards the capital costs of the project and was helping the yard to prepare an application to the Department of Trade and Industry for regional selective assistance.

Mr Balls said: "This is good news for Tyneside. THC has an excellent track record and is one of Europe's leading companies in the manufacture of offshore modules and equipment."

It is not clear whether the Swan Hunter name will survive. THC already has 500 employees building offshore vessels at its Hartlepool, Cleveland, base.

Eddie Darke, the former union convener and Swan campaigner, said: "This is brilliant news. I understand there will be as many as 600 jobs created at peak periods. We are long overdue something to lift the spirits of the people on North Tyneside."

Swan Hunter was put into receivership in May 1993 after a Ministry of Defence order for a helicopter carrier fell through. Analysts said it was a victim of the ending of the Cold War, which left the UK with the capacity to support only two naval shipyards, Yarrow, owned by GEC, and Barrow-in-Furness, owned by VSEL.

Swan Hunter has built more than 1,600 ships since it was founded in the 1830s, including the liner, the Mauritania. Its last ship, HMS Richmond, was delivered to the Royal Navy before Christmas. At one point the yard employed more than 3,000, and the 2,200 remaining were quickly whittled down after the receivership to just 39 this spring.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project