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Bank to recoup just £2m of £38m owed from Wrights Group


Wrightbus was purchased by industrialist Jo Bamford.

Wrightbus was purchased by industrialist Jo Bamford.

New Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford

New Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford

Wrightbus was purchased by industrialist Jo Bamford.

Bank of Ireland will receive just £2m out of £38m it was owed by Wrights Group following the administration of the bus giant, it has emerged.

Bank of Ireland was the manufacturer's biggest creditor before the Ballymena business went bust in September last year with the loss of 1,200 jobs.

However, a new report filed at Companies House last week by administrators Deloitte said that the bank will not be paid in full, and will receive just £2m from the administration process.

But economic development agency Invest NI, which lent the company £2.5m while it was in financial difficulties and trying to find a buyer, will be repaid.

Both Invest NI and Bank of Ireland - classed as secured creditors - have each been repaid £1.5m in the form of a distribution, with the bank receiving a further £531,300 in funded debtor amounts. And preferential creditors are also to be paid in full. The administrators said they had been contacted by 616 preferential creditors who are owned a total of £691,000.

Deloitte are appointed administrators of Wrights Group and related companies Wrightbus, Wright En-Drive Limited, Wright Composites Ltd, and Metallix Ltd.

The composites business was sold to Jans Composites Ltd.

While the Wrights name is back in the bus business after most of its assets were sold to Bamford Bus Company (BBCL), the administration process for sorting out debts of the old companies goes on. Unsecured creditors of the firms, many of which are small suppliers, are not likely to receive more than £688,000 between them, or 3% of the total sum of £20.6m that they are owned.

The administrators' statement reveals that BBCL has now paid deferred consideration of £3m for the sale of some finished buses.

That is in addition to an earlier upfront sum of £3m for business records, customer lists, goodwill, intellectual property, motor vehicles and other assets.

However, Deloitte states in the report that the full details of the sale deal are confidential. The report says that BBCL has also paid another £100,000 for shares in the Wrightbus International business, which was not part of the administration process.

It also reveals that the administration process had raised £5.7m for Wrightbus, as well as £513,700 for the Composites business. There had been £376,000 raised from the plant and machinery and stock sales at En Drive, while £237,200 was raised from the administration of the Wrightbus Metallix company.

In February, following a BBC NI Spotlight investigation into the administration, the NI Audit Office said it would look into the £2.5m loan made by Invest NI.

"We are aware of this issue and will be considering it as part of our audit of Invest NI's financial statements," it said.

Last week, Jo Bamford, the new owner of Wrightbus, told the Belfast Telegraph that he hopes to hire another 1,000 workers as part of a drive to produce around 3,000 hydrogen-powered buses over the next four years. Around 550 are employed in Ballymena, though around 450 have been furloughed.

Belfast Telegraph