BiFab saved as Canadian industrial giant agrees takeover deal

Closure-threatened Fife fabricator BiFab has been saved after a takeover by Canadian industrial services group DF Barnes.

The move follows months of uncertainty for workers at the group’s yards at Burntisland, Methil and Arnish after the firm’s near collapse last year.

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First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon at fabrication firm BiFab in Methil.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Economy Secretary Keith Brown were at Burntisland today to announce the landmark deal.

DF Barnes is part of JV Driver,  one of Canada’s largest independently owned industrial construction companies, and the intention is to rebuild BiFab as a business. It had been linked with a buy-out in January.

The Scottish Government has taking a minority stake in the new company  in order to demonstrate its continued commitment to supporting the future of the yard.

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BiFab workers marched on the Scottish Parliament to save their jobs after the company’s difficulties were revealed late last year.

“We are delivering on the commitment I made last year that we would stand by BiFab and work to secure a long term future for the company,” the First Minister said.

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From left: Pat Rafferty of the union Unite, Sean Powers VP of Business Development at DF Barnes, Jason Fudge CEO of DF Barnes, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Chuck Saunders CFO of JV Driver and Martin Adam Director of BiFab.

“We have been in negotiations with DF Barnes for a number of months and today is a significant step forward in our efforts to restore BiFab to its place at the centre of Scotland’s marine energy industry.

“DF Barnes acquisition is a key milestone for all three BiFab yards and as a sign of our commitment to the company’s future, the Scottish Government will maintain a close interest by taking a minority shareholding in the company.

Comment: Hard work just beginning for distressed BiFab

“There is a lot of hard work ahead, and there is no magic bullet for these yards but the commitment of DF Barnes to securing a new future for the business at Burntisland, Methil and Arnish is a hugely positive step and I believe that gives BiFab the best chance of winning future contracts and securing new work.

“This announcement is also a tribute to the efforts of the trade unions and employees at BiFab whose dignified actions throughout this difficult time have played a huge part in enabling us to bring in new investors and creating new employment opportunities in Fife, the Western Isles and for the Scottish economy as a whole.”

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The BiFab yard at Methil.

A new company – BiFab Holdings Limited – was  incorporated on April 6 and it is ultimately controlled by William Elkington, the chairman of JV Driver.

DF Barnes chief executive Jason Fudge said the group was excited to have a major presence in Scotland.

“Scotland has been an admired world leader in the offshore oil and gas and renewable energy sectors and we are delighted to join with the employees of BiFab and the people of Scotland to ensure the continued growth of BiFab for the benefit of all. This is a great day for us,” he said.

Vice-president of business development Sean Power added: “We are looking forward to a long and successful partnership with BiFab.

“We will work closely with management and the union representatives to ensure continuity for the people who work for the company. We are sensitive to the commitment that employees have made to BiFab and will work hard to meet their expectations.”

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Economy Secretary Keith Brown will update Parliament on the deal

Economy Secretary Keith Brown – who will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on the issue later – added: “This agreement gives the workforce, the company and the government the best possible chance of securing a vibrant future for these yards.

“The Scottish Government believes BiFab can be a thriving business, supporting Scotland’s offshore renewables and oil and gas industry as well as competing internationally.

“As the current contract comes to an end, and while efforts go into winning new work there will continue to be difficult times for the yard and there can be no guarantees that contracts will be won but I am confident this agreement, which sees the Scottish Government become a minority shareholder in the company, will deliver for BiFab’s future in Fife and the Western Isles.”