Scottish Government 'intends' to put Fergusons into private ownership

A Scottish minister said the Government would seek to place the company back into private ownership 'as soon as possible'.

The Scottish Government intends to return the Ferguson Marine shipyard to the private sector, a minister has confirmed.

Neil Gray said the current plan was to take the company out of Government ownership “as soon as possible” – provided the firm could be sustained as a “going concern”.

The wellbeing economy, fair work and energy secretary told Holyrood’s economy and fair work committee that the better the firm’s finances are, the quicker that transition will happen.

The Port Glasgow yard was nationalised by the Scottish Government in 2019 in a bid to save the 300 jobs employed by the company.

However, the shipyard has been hit with a slew of issues since its buyout, including the production of two long-overdue and over-budget ferries.

A report by Audit Scotland in March said the completion date of the Glen Sannox (801) and the unnamed 802 vessels remains unclear.

The two ships are estimated to cost £293m, with delivery already five years late. The original estimate was £97m.

Stephen Boyle, Scotland’s auditor general, said that doubt remained over the long-term viability of the Fergusons.

A Scottish Government review into the shipyard is ongoing.

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP said Gray failed to provide a date for when the Government hopes to return Fergusons to private ownership.

He said: “It was interesting that Neil Gray should have confirmed, in his answer to my question, that the SNP Government intends to return Ferguson Marine to the private sector.

“But he was much less specific on exactly how he hoped privatisation would happen.

“His admission that ‘there have been challenges’ is quite the understatement. The woeful and ongoing failure to deliver lifeline ferries makes the prospect of finding a buyer much harder.

“The SNP Government must now work with the yard to get it into a position where it can compete for other work and make it fit for sale.

“That is undoubtedly going to need even more public money so ministers should spell out how much more they are prepared to spend on the yard.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It has always been the intention of the Scottish Government to return Ferguson Marine to private ownership – indeed, this was made clear when we announced that the yard was to be taken into public ownership.

“We are committed to securing a sustainable future for the yard and any deal would need to work for the yard’s employees and the taxpayer.”

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