The owner of the Wrightbus factory site Jeff Wright has said a deal which has been reached in principle with industrialist Jo Bamford is in the best interests of the company.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Wright said the deal was reached following "intensive overnight negotiations between the two parties" over the sale of Wrightbus to Ryse Hydrogen.
In a statement, he said: "The outcome of the negotiations involved pragmatism in arriving at an arrangement which is ultimately in the best interests of the long-term sustainability of the bus manufacturing business and jobs in the Ballymena area.
"The two businessmen confirmed that the Wrightbus factory has been saved from liquidation with Jo Bamford as the new owner of the business.
"Mr Bamford’s firm will acquire the entire premises at Galgorm including the factory, fixtures and fittings as well as the associated land.
"Wishing Mr Bamford every success Mr Wright confirmed that he had gifted 40 acres of family owned farmland to Mid and East Antrim Council by way of a legacy for the people of Ballymena in recognition of their contribution over 70 years to the service of Wrightbus.
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"This legacy gift is a tribute not only to my father, his father before him, the Wright family members but most importantly the generations of workers who helped build a proud manufacturing tradition in Ballymena. It is my true wish to see this legacy used for the purposes of expanding manufacturing and benefiting my local community.
"Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have ambitious manufacturing plans, led by Council Chief Executive Anne Donaghy, for Ballymena, and the Wrightbus legacy lands could be used for a landmark project to grow jobs and industry.
"I believe this use of the Wrightbus legacy land would send a clear message to Northern Ireland and beyond that Ballymena has a strong future in advanced manufacturing.
"Council is in ongoing negotiations with Queen’s University in terms of research and development support, and the site will be proposed to form a key asset in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) project which is part of Belfast Region City Deal and also part of Council’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem vision.
"The proposed transformation of the lands into manufacturing space will be driven by the council. The council is now engaged in carrying out due diligence and final council approval."