THE Dutch owners of Hall’s of Broxburn were blasted last night for announcing the factory’s closure – by a finance firm who want to keep it open.
The Record can today name private equity firm Graf Capital as one of the bidders for the meat plant which owners Vion claim there is “no alternative” but to shut.
Graf have made an offer to Vion for the world-famous West Lothian business.
They say their interest was “well received” and their lawyers have spent the last few days working to finalise terms in a bid to seal a last-ditch deal.
But they were stunned by a statement from Vion on Friday, which said the firm were “unable to identify any viable alternative to the closure of the plant”.
The Eindhoven-based company went on to outline plans for a phased shutdown with the loss of 1700 jobs – sparking fury from workers and politicians.
Graf managing director Steve Green told the Record: “I am keen to reassure the staff that there is a credible bid to save the business. We believe it can be taken over by us within 14 days.”
He said Friday’s announcement “may have caused a lot of heartache unnecessarily”.
Green added: “They said that because a deal had not been done, they felt they should advise everyone of the state of play.
“I feel that was premature. Given that there is still a viable bid on the table, I feel it would have been fairer to staff if they had held off.
“The workforce have been sitting there all weekend, thinking they are going to be out of work. We think the employees were dealt with quite unfairly on Friday. All hope was taken from them. But as far as we are concerned, we could be in and operating the factory.”
Another two bidders have also inquired about the business, although it is understood they have not followed up in as much detail as Graf. The firm have spent four weeks examining the books at Hall’s with a view to taking over the plant as a going concern.
Their planned business model will focus more on independent retailers rather than selling in huge volumes to supermarkets.
Green said: “I can say there is a serious bid on the table. If we sit down and sort out the terms, the factory could have a long-term viable future.
“We want to run all parts of the plant as a going concern, and we just want them to sit down and negotiate with us. There are just a few issues that have to be sorted out.”
Meat Trade News Daily Supporting British Pig Farmers
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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