BiFab tight lipped over Canadian buy-out rumours

© DC Thomson
The BiFab yard in Methil.

A Canadian firm is understood to have held talks with BiFab bosses, fuelling speculation of a possible buy-out.

BiFab, which was hauled back from the brink of administration in November, would not comment on claims that a delegation from Newfoundland-based DF Barnes had visited its Methil yard.

However, insiders say workers believe an overseas manufacturer may be interested in buying a stake in the company – and hope this could secure its longer term future and protect jobs.

BiFab, which has yards at Methil, Burntisland and Arnish on the Isle of Lewis, employs around 250 permanent staff and another 1,130 agency workers.

Established in 1932, DF Barnes started as a shipbuilding company and now provides specialised maintenance, fabrication, and construction services to the energy extraction and maritime sectors.

The Courier contacted DF Barnes for comment but the company has yet to respond.

BiFab employees continued to work, not knowing if they would be paid, after the company filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators.

And all but one employment agency pulled its workers out of the yards as crisis talks were held to try to safeguard its future.

The Scottish Government stepped in at the last minute to secure a rescue deal and a financial package was agreed by Dutch contractors Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), SSE and project partners JCE Offshore.

Economy secretary Keith Brown revealed the firm had been saved from administration three times during a week of uncertainty for the Fife workforce.

BiFab management blamed cash flow problems for its financial crisis.

Crews at the yards in Methil and Burntisland are currently working on jacket substructures for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm contract, which was awarded to SHL.

However, that work is due to be completed in April this year and a question mark hangs over BiFab’s future.

It is understood no further work has been lined up to keep the yards going.

Last month, Fife Council co-leader David Ross said the authority and Scottish Enterprise were in regular contact with BiFab as it attempts to secure further contracts.