'Race' to do a deal on Wrightbus should be good news, staff told
Wrightbus has told its 1,400 staff that it is in a "race" to complete a final deal in the next few days to retain their jobs.
The troubled Ballymena bus maker, which was co-founded by Sir William Wright 73 years ago, was expected to go into administration this week after trading difficulties forced it to look for new investors.
Talks have broken down with at least one potential investor, with Northern Ireland man Darren Donnelly announcing he was withdrawing his bid to take over the company.
Later, UK entrepreneur Jo Bamford, whose father owns the machinery equipment firm JCB in the UK, had been linked to talks.
Chinese company Weichai has also been linked to a possible takeover, but according to reports had started to lose interest in a potential deal.
But an update issued to staff yesterday said: "We have an update for you all today and as we have done throughout, are seeking to keep you informed at each stage of this process.
"We want to assure you that this is hopefully good news for everyone.
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"We are now in a race to complete a final deal with credible bidders."
It said that job contracts among the 1,400 staff would be kept under legislation known as TUPE.
And despite reports that a sale to a new investor could mean job cuts, the company told staff: "In these bids it is envisaged that employment contracts will be TUPE'd across to the new owner and your length of service will be preserved.
"You will continue to be paid as normal and once this stage is complete, the new owner will take over all business operations.
"This ongoing business and its employees are our number one priority and we are confident that a positive outcome can be delivered over the next few days."
The company said it will be in a position to update staff next week regarding "next steps".
It is reported that Wrightbus needs a cash injection of around £30m to stay in business, with its parent company, Wrights Group, hiring professional services firm Deloitte in July to advise on talks with potential investors.
Mr Donnelly - who ran trailer company SDC Trailers with his father John - was linked to Wrightbus talks last Saturday, but stepped away on Monday.