Public ownership an 'option' for Ferguson shipyard

12 August 2019, 10:36 | Updated: 12 August 2019, 11:06

Port Glasgow

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has confirmed that taking the Ferguson shipyard into public ownership is a viable option for the Scottish Government.

Last week, bosses at the yard served notice of their intent to put the Port Glasgow yard into administration - with around 350 jobs at risk.

Ferguson Marine Engineering chief executive Gerry Marshall said the move had been made "with great regret and disappointment".

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday, Mr Mackay said that while the Government would welcome commercial interest in the yard, it will also consider stepping in.

Mr Mackay added that the Government also expects the completion of vessels for CalMac after Ferguson Marine won a £97 million fixed-price contract.

"We are disappointed that we're in this position," said Mr Mackay.

"We would have hoped that there could have been a commercial solution, that could have been the company continuing, but that won't be the case.

"They've given notice of intent to move into administration so the yard was heading for administration.

"We'll see if another commercial option comes forward; I feel that's probably unlikely.

"The commitment that I give and that the Scottish Government gives is that we want the completion of the vessels under construction, we want to retain the jobs and give the yard a future, and if it requires public ownership to achieve that outcome, then that's what we'll do."

The shipyard's owner, Jim McColl, has been critical of the Government over the public ownership proposals, suggesting there was "no economic sense" in the move and that it would "damage the economy".

However, Mr Mackay said it could be a possible outcome following talks.

He said: "We'll have to wait and see what comes forward in terms of a viable commercial solution, I don't think there is one but we'll see if any investors come forward.

"Of course we would welcome that, we would welcome engagement and interest in the yard, but the reality here is that we want to see the completion of the vessels, we want to secure the jobs and give the yard a future.

"And of course we have an interest, we have involvement there and I think it's good for the wider economy as well and, as Finance Secretary, I'm saying that public ownership is indeed an option.

"There will be talks, of course they're commercially sensitive, but, yes, I do think that's a possible outcome."