Son of JCB chairman in talks to secure a deal with Wrightbus
The son of the chairman of UK machinery giant JCB has become the latest entrepreneur to be linked with a takeover of troubled manufacturer Wrightbus.
The Ballymena bus-builder has been tipped to go into administration this week if it cannot finalise a deal with a buyer.
Earlier this week, Mid-Ulster businessman Darren Donnelly said he was walking away from discussions over a purchase of Wrightbus.
Now it's emerged that Jo Bamford - whose father Lord Bamford is chairman of JCB - is involved in talks.
Mr Bamford's hydrogen fuel company Ryse Hydrogen has already worked with Wrightbus on a contract with Transport for London to convert buses to hydrogen fuel. Mr Bamford has not responded to a request for comment, while Wrightbus also refused to comment on the businessman's involvement, which was first reported in the Daily Telegraph.
The newspaper said Mr Bamford was in talks about buying at least part of the firm, which has been facing trading difficulties following a downturn in its markets.
But a spokeswoman for Wrightbus said yesterday that "advanced" discussions were still taking place with potential investors over a deal.
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It's understood Chinese company Weichai, a subsidiary of Shandong Heavy Industry, remains involved in the talks.
Mr Bamford left the business run by his father Lord Bamford earlier this year to pursue his own business interests.
Sources quoted by the Daily Telegraph said that Mr Donnelly's plan for the business would have involved around half of the workforce of 1400 losing their jobs. But it's not clear how many jobs would be preserved under Mr Bamford's proposal.
Mr Donnelly and his father John Donnelly ran SDC Trailers in Toomebridge, which was sold to Chinese company CIMC vehciles three years ago
Meanwhile, commercial property agents OKT have said that two Wrightbus industrial properties remain on the market.
Members of the family behind bus manufacturer Wrightbus put the premises on the business's Galgorm site on the market last month.
The Metallix building is on the market for £1.2m, while the composites factory has an asking price of £1.7m.