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UK News BiFab claims Scottish Government ‘untruthful’ over financial claims

15:40  27 november  2020
15:40  27 november  2020 Source:   msn.com

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BiFab has hit back at Scottish government claims that the Canadian company with a majority stake in the Fife and Lewis fabrication yards failed to invest in them. In September, BiFab lost out on a major contract after ministers withdrew their offer of a £30m guarantee. The government cited European

The Scottish and UK governments say they cannot further support the engineering firm under subsidy rules. The Scottish government said the main shareholder, a Canadian firm, refusing to provide finance , guarantees or investment was the key issue. The complex battle over the BiFab yards.

The Scottish Government has been accused of being untruthful and inaccurate over allegations a lack of financial support from BiFab’s Canadian owner is to blame for the company’s problems.

a group of baseball players standing on top of a field: Canadian-based JV Driver acquired BiFab in April 2018 (Andrew Milligan/PA) © Andrew Milligan Canadian-based JV Driver acquired BiFab in April 2018 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A £2 billion deal collapsed last month for Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) to manufacture eight wind turbine jackets at its yards in Methil, Fife, as part of the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) project.

The UK and Scottish Governments have said they have no legal route to provide further financial support to the company, which was acquired by Canada-based JV Driver in April 2018 after the Scottish Government rescued BiFab in 2017.

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That's while the Scottish government is asking urgently for discussions with the UK government to find ways it could help work together to support the industry. There is a complex battle being fought over industrial yards that are currently mothballed. The BiFab yards are seen as the key to Scotland

The Scottish government pointed out the loans were used to try and secure the yards' future when hundreds of jobs were at stake. A spokeswoman said: "The Scottish government provided a loan facility to BiFab to allow completion of the works on the Beatrice contracts.

Unions have said the situation is a growing scandal (Andrew Milligan/PA) © Provided by PA Media Unions have said the situation is a growing scandal (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland’s Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said on Tuesday that the main issue leading to the problems has been the “unwillingness” of parent company and majority shareholder JV Driver to provide working capital, investment or guarantees for BiFab.

In a statement on Friday, BiFab said: “Scottish ministers continue to focus on JV Driver’s alleged lack of investment, guarantees and capital as the primary cause for its current situation.

“This cannot be further from the truth.”

BiFab said that, recognising the growing state aid challenges faced by Scottish ministers early in 2020, JV Driver offered on numerous occasions to transfer some or all of its shares in BiFab to Scottish ministers at no cost to the Scottish purse but ministers never pursued it.

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The company said: “This offer was made to facilitate an ownership position by Scottish ministers that could support further investment if and when required.

“This offer was never pursued by Scottish ministers. This offer still stands today.”

The company said BiFab and its management were given no access or opportunity to address the BiFab Working Group set up by the UK and Scottish Governments and have not been contacted by it.

BiFab added: “Scottish ministers also point to the lack of a long-term business plan as a secondary causal factor to the current situation.

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Canadian firm takes over BiFab yards. BiFab 'effectively closed' claims GMB union. BiFab misses out on wind farm order. A spokesman for the GMB union said: "EDF doesn't seem BiFab had previously been taken over by a Canadian engineering firm - in a deal brokered by the Scottish government .

The social security secretary says the Scottish government can not afford to alleviate all Westminster's benefit cuts. The energy committee considers issues facing BiFab which recently lost out on wind farm contracts. MSPs debate social security and in-work poverty.

“Again, this is inaccurate. JV Driver prepared a long-form multi-phase business plan for Scottish ministers prior to acquiring BiFab.”

BiFab said many nations have local supply chain protections that limit the amount of international sourcing available to major energy infrastructure projects but that no such legislation exists in Scotland or the wider UK.

It said that as a result, thousands of high-paying fabrication jobs are being lost to the Middle East and Asia and only Scottish and UK ministers have the ability to change this policy.

BiFab said ultimately it appears the NnG project will be lost to BiFab along with the 400 to 500 jobs it promised to create.

It said: “As a result of recent correspondence from Scottish ministers, it is apparent that creditor support from the Scottish ministers required to pursue critical solutions for BiFab will be unavailable.

“While incredibly disappointed, BiFab management continues to consider all options available to the business.”

The Scottish secretaries of the GMB and Unite unions, Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, described the situation as a “growing scandal”.

They added: “The signal this sends out to the renewables industry is clear, it’s business as usual.

“The jobs of the future will continue to be exported to the rest of world and subsidised by the billpayer to the tune of billions.

“At best, Britain will get scraps off the table from its own offshore wind market but it looks like both Governments have buried any credible hopes for a meaningful green jobs recovery in Scotland.”

The Scottish and UK Governments have been contacted for comment.

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