Haymills takeover deal expected today

Wednesday, 12 August, 2009

HUNDREDS of jobs at ailing Suffolk building firm Haymills are set to be saved after a takeover deal was agreed with a French construction giant.

Haymills, based in Stowmarket, employs more than 300 people in the county and it is believed that the vast majority will keep their jobs after the company's administrators elect opted to allow Vinci Plc to buy the business.

The deal may have come too late to save the jobs of all of the firm's other 400 employees based around the UK, with more than 120 people set to be made redundant at its London operations which will not be part of the takeover.

The 98-year-old company, which has worked on a string of high-profile buildings in recent years, was plunged into crisis two weeks ago when its bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, froze its overdraft facility.

Staff on weekly wages have not been paid since and payments to sub-contractors - who are owed hundreds of thousands of pounds - have not been made.

But now it seems staff will be brought up to date with their wages and sub-contractors may see more of their outstanding bills paid.

This morning, Haymills will briefly enter administration before the paperwork is completed and Vinci formally acquire the group.

Last night a Haymills spokesman said he could not confirm the details of the arrangement but that the deal would be signed by lunchtime today.

He said: 'Further to two weeks of hard work, we look forward to a successful conclusion for all staff in the East Anglian region and to getting back to business and doing what we do best, which is build.'

A Vinci spokesman declined to comment on the deal.

The mid Suffolk business community had leant their support to the firm as well as politicians David Ruffley, the MP for the area, and Tim Passmore, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council.

However, some independent sub-contractors said they were owed tens of thousands of pounds by Haymills dating back as far as four years and feared they may lose out under the terms.

They joined Mr Ruffley and Mr Passmore in criticising RBS for cutting off the firm's credit when it needed the money the most.

A spokesman for RBS said that due to strict rules governing customer confidentiality, they were unable to comment on the case.

She said: 'We are determined to support customers that need our help, but this has to be on a viable commercial basis.'