VSEL chases Swan: Four firms said to be interested in shipyard

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The Independent Online
VSEL, the Cumbria-based shipbuilder, has emerged as a potential bidder for Swan Hunter, the Tyneside warship company that went into receivership in May.

Noel Davies, VSEL's chief executive, has been in contact with the Swan Hunter receivers at Price Waterhouse.

Unions say that three other companies - GEC, Bremer Vulkan of Germany and Cheshire-based Amec - have expressed interest in all or parts of Swan.

Around 500 jobs have gone at Swan Hunter since it went into receivership after failing to win a government contract for helicopter carriers and a further 1,700 direct jobs are at risk. Swan Hunter's only remaining work is the building of three Type 23 frigates for the Ministry of Defence.

Industry observers believe that Bremer Vulkan, which has confirmed that it has looked at the Tyneside yard, is the most likely saviour for Swan.

A spokesman for VSEL said it was unlikely to make a full bid for Swan. However, none of the potential bidders will say what they would do with the yard, in whole or in part.

Tom Brennan, the spokesman for the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions on Tyneside, said: 'The responses we received from all four companies were certainly not negative.' He also said that four other companies - Kvaerner Govan, British Aerospace, Vosper Thornycroft and Rolls-Royce - had said they were not interested in Swan.

A spokeswoman for Ed James, joint receiver to the yard, said that the receivers were interested in those who wanted the whole yard or a substantial part of it.

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