BDO takes on administration of offshore wind fabricator

15 August 2019 3 min. read
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Administrators have been officially appointed to troubled UK offshore wind fabricator Harland and Wolff following a court hearing. Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy from BDO Northern Ireland have taken the reins at the historical ship-builder.

Renewable energy sources set a new record in the last year by meeting a third of the UK’s power generation last year after the UK’s capacity to generate power from the sun, wind, water and waste grew by 10%. Offshore and onshore wind is the biggest source of renewable energy in the UK, outstripping other renewable sources by 13.8% and the combined generation of coal, oil, and others by 6.5%.

As the renewable energy industry continues to make strides in terms of efficiency and profitability, however, other economic forces are still capable of hitting industry players hard. Amid the increasing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and continued talk of a No Deal scenario being realised at the end of October, a number of Northern Irish businesses have been forced into insolvency proceedings in recent months – and the latest of these comes from the offshore wind scene.

BDO takes on administration of offshore wind fabricator

Founded in Belfast in 1861, Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries is a heavy industrial company, specialising in ship repair, conversion, and offshore construction, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. While it is famous for having built the majority of the ships intended for the White Star Line, as of 2011, the expanding offshore wind power industry saw its prime focus shift notably, and 75% of the company's work is based on offshore renewable energy.

A court hearing was held in Belfast earlier in August as the first step in an insolvency process, placing the futures of 123 staff, some of whom are protesting at the facility, in jeopardy. Workers and trade union officials have subsequently occupied the firm’s Belfast yard, and held a conference call with Secretary of State Julian Smith soon after the firm fell into administration. According to Unite regional organiser Susan Fitzgerald, the workers are “digging in” and lobbying for the Government to intervene.

Fitzgerald explained to the Belfast Telegraph, “We raised points that the workforce are here, they are digging in, this is a viable operation, there are contracts out there waiting to be won, work waiting to come in and on the basis of an intervention from this Government, that work could start straight away.”

A new owner is still being sought for the company, it is understood. Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy, Partners at business advisory firm BDO Northern Ireland have taken the reins at the Belfast yard.

A BDO spokesperson said, “After a long sales process, in which a buyer could not be found, the business has been unable to continue trading due to having insufficient funds following the recent insolvency of its ultimate parent. The team at BDO have engaged immediately with Harland & Wolff employees and other stakeholders to take all necessary steps to ensure they are supported throughout the administration process."