Scottish ministers have put £40 million of loans into a loss-making engineering company that is struggling to win contracts. The SNP administration is yet to publish financial records relating to the multimillion-pound loans to Burntisland Fabrications (Bifab). However, the same amount of public money used to save Bifab has been put towards keeping Prestwick airport open. The Scottish government is now trying to offload the airport. Bifab employed about 2,000 people across its two yards in Fife and one on Lewis during peak production on its last large contract, which was for the Beatrice offshore wind farm. It is known that ministers gave two separate loans – of £19 million and £7.6 million – which were converted into shares as part of an effort to save jobs at the Fife business. Documents released under freedom of information laws show that ministers offered up to £51 million of loan funding. Bifab secured an initial £30 million, to be increased to £41 million. An additional £10 million loan for restructuring and working capital once the Beatrice contracts were finished is also on the table. The Scottish government now has a minority stake in the company, although the largest shareholder is DF Barnes, a Canadian business owned by JV Driver. According to the documents, the government appears to have given DF Barnes a non-binding “letter of comfort” suggesting that a further £20 million could be made available if needed.
Times 24th Sept 2019 read more »