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‘Boris Bus’ maker to crash into administration

by ace
Wrightbus makes the Routemasters commissioned by Boris Johnson as Mayor of London

Boris Johnson will face his second major private-sector headache this week on Wednesday, with Northern Ireland bus maker Wrightbus about to collide with management.

Sky News has found that the Ballymena-based company is expected to formally appoint Deloitte as an administrator after weeks of negotiations with potential buyers.

Sources close to one of the bidders said on Tuesday night that Deloitte's appointment was "almost certain" to happen within 24 hours, putting about 1,300 jobs at risk.

The news will deal a devastating blow to Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector, with the prospects for Wrightbus's recovery in its now remote form.

This will ask questions about how far the government stepped in to try to support the company after the Prime Minister's comments several weeks ago when he told deputies:

"It has been of great value to the people of this country and I think it is a great company and we will be sure that, I guarantee, we will do everything we can to ensure the future of this great UK company."

Wrightbus's descent into insolvency proceedings will occur within hours of the compulsory liquidation of Thomas Cook.

Last month Wrightbus held talks with potential buyers, including Darren Donnelly, a local transportation entrepreneur; Jo Bamford, member of the founding family of JCB; and Weichai, a Chinese industrial group.

Wrightbus considers Transport for London (TfL) and Volvo among its largest significant customers.

The Routemasters commissioned by Mr. Johnson during his tenure as mayor of London became known as & # 39; Boris Buses & # 39; Due to their distinctive appearance, they are manufactured by Wrightbus.

The company is one of Northern Ireland's most prominent exporters and its collapse would be a severe blow to the local economy following the loss of jobs at Bombardier, the aerospace group and the crisis at shipbuilder Harland and Wolff.

Sky News revealed in July that Wrightbus had hired Deloitte, a professional services company, to woo potential buyers after a financial crisis that left it facing heavy losses.

Annualized losses are currently reaching approximately £ 15 million, and the company may need a capital injection of at least £ 30 million, it said in July.

Wrightbus has been present in Ballymena for decades.

Image:
The first working prototype of The New Bus For London is presented at the Wrightbus factory in Ballymena, Antrim County. November 4, 2011.

Sir William Wright, who founded the company with his father in 1946, was named last year's New Year list for services to the UK bus industry and economy.

In its current form, Wright Group became the world's first developer of a hybrid electric double decker bus in 2006.

Wright Group, which also has Kowloon Motor Bus in Hong Kong among its major export clients, has already been forced to make redundancies.

In June last year, the company said it was leaving 95 jobs in its operations, an action that angered Unite union representatives.

This followed an identical round of cuts three months earlier.

In addition to its bus manufacturing unit, Wright Group includes a chassis design arm, the EN-Drive.

Could not find Wrightbus to comment on Tuesday.

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