Belfast Telegraph

NI Water contractors saved from £140m debt in a last minute deal

By Clare Weir

A major infrastructure firm delivering a large project for Northern Ireland Water has been pulled back from the brink of disaster as a syndicate of banks agreed to wipe out a chunk of the ailing firm's debt in a last-minute deal.

Mouchel - which provides consulting and business services on road building and other public sector projects - warned it will collapse under its £140m debt pile at the end of this month if shareholders do not approve the debt-for-equity swap.

In March NI Water announced it had awarded Mouchel an 18-month contract to deliver an "asset inventory". Mouchel said it would be employing up to 40 people on the project.

A spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Water said that work was continuing as normal.

"NI Water can confirm that it is aware of Mouchel's situation and have been monitoring the matter closely," she said.

"We will continue to work with Mouchel in the delivery of the asset data acquisition and improvement project for NI Water".

Mouchel has worked with NI Water for over 20 years from its office in Holywood, Co Down.

Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays will release £87m of debt in exchange for a controlling stake in the business, safeguarding 8,000 jobs and leaving Mouchel with a more sustainable £60m worth of debt.

Mouchel chief executive, Grant Rumbles, said the restructuring represented the "best possible outcome" for stakeholders, as well as safeguarding existing contracts and preserving job security.