New task force will tackle SLP's future
A POLITICAL and economic task force will be set up in the New Year in a bid to secure the future for hundreds of workers at a Lowestoft company.Engineering firm SLP was placed in administration last month and while the majority of the 800 staff are still working on ongoing contracts, political and economic representatives have vowed to set up a programme to support the workers over the coming months.
A POLITICAL and economic task force will be set up in the New Year in a bid to secure the future for hundreds of workers at a Lowestoft company.
Engineering firm SLP was placed in administration last month and while the majority of the 800 staff are still working on ongoing contracts, political and economic representatives have vowed to set up a programme to support the workers over the coming months.
Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been trying to find a buyer for the firm, which builds accommodation for offshore oil and gas rigs, and there is renewed hope that a buyer will be found soon.
Stephen Oldfield, joint administrator and advisory partner at PwC said: 'Inquiries have come from every continent and include a significant amount of trade interest, some financial buyers and some plc and intermediary interest.
'A number of meetings are scheduled for next week and some progress is expected before Christmas. However, recognising the festive period, meaningful talks are unlikely to take place until January.'
He added: 'The interest we have received in SLP over recent days has ranged from focus on the oil and gas activities of the group, its renewables business and the two combined. There has also been interest in the assets of the group but our focus remains on finding a buyer for the SLP business as a going-concern.'
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Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, who has been holding regular meetings with the administrators, said that he is helping to set up a regional task force to help make the future more secure for the workers.
He has already met secretary of state for business Peter Mandelson at Westminster to discuss the bleak situation in Lowestoft and the uncertain future being faced by hundreds of employees at SLP.
Mr Blizzard said: 'Although I don't want to think about the possibility of no buyer being found, I have spoken to Peter Mandelson about it because such a large number of job losses would be a major blow to the whole region. He has promised that he stands ready to step forward if the worst happens.'
He added: 'I have been talking to representatives at Go East and the East of England Development Agency (Eeda) about plans to put together a task force in the New Year which will be there just in case.
'It will be a group of key organisations and we will all sit down and seriously consider what we would do if a buyer for SLP is not forthcoming.'
SLP was forced into administration in November after being caught in a $91m (�55m) legal dispute with Maersk over a contract to build accommodation modules for rigs in the Al Shaheen oilfield in Qatar in 2006.
About 45 management roles were made redundant in November but the majority of staff are still on site working on ongoing contracts while the search for a buyer continues.