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Possible buyer visits SLP yard

PUBLISHED: 06:05 30 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:43 06 July 2010

Paul Hill, business editor

A potential buyer for one of East Anglia's best-known engineering companies has paid a visit to its Lowestoft headquarters - raising hopes that the firm may emerge from administration under new ownership.

A potential buyer for one of East Anglia's best-known engineering companies has paid a visit to its Lowestoft headquarters - raising hopes that the firm may emerge from administration under new ownership.

Administrators were called to oil and gas specialist SLP earlier this month after months of speculation about the firm's future and a multi-million dollar legal dispute over a Middle East oil deal.

Though 45 management jobs have been lost, more than 700 staff are still working on a series of contracts at the firm's Lowestoft yard, including for the oil giant BP.

Yesterday administrator Stephen Oldfield of PricewaterhouseCoopers said he "remained optimistic" that a buyer for the business will emerge - and revealed that one possible buyer has visited Lowestoft in recent days.

"There has been further interest in SLP both internationally and from within the UK," Mr Oldfield said.

"There has already been one site visit, which went well, and I expect there will be further visits in the New Year."

Mr Oldfield added that one major project was due to be completed and leave SLP's Lowestoft yard in the next few days.

The ongoing work at the yard - which has continued through Christmas - was a "stable trading platform" for the business, he said.

Concerns about SLP's future were first raised last year when it emerged that the firm was caught in a $91m (£55m) claim-and-counter claim legal dispute with Maersk over a contract to build accommodation modules for rigs in the Al Shaheen oilfield in Qatar in 2006.

Maersk claimed there had been a series of commercial financial and scheduling problems with SLP over the deal - a claim which SLP rejected as completely misleading and inaccurate.

The two companies had been in legal arbitration over the dispute but it had put a "significant financial strain" on SLP, according to the administrator.


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