UK

Wrightbus: Growing fears for future of Ballymena company

Wrightbus facility
Image caption Wrightbus is one of Ballymena's largest employers

There are growing fears for the future of Wrightbus in Ballymena with a reported stalling of negotiations with potential buyers.

The company is up for sale amid mounting financial problems.

The area's MP, Ian Paisley, said he understands that talks between the firm and two potential buyers failed to reach a conclusion on Friday.

Wrightbus said it is still "working hard to ensure the long-term future of the company and its workforce".

Mr Paisley said it was his understanding that negotiations for a potential buyout would continue.

"It has been expressed to me that there is great frustration that they haven't been able to seal a deal," he said.

"It appears to be one of those moments when everything is very close, but yet so far."

A Chinese engineering group and a firm led by industrialist Jo Bamford had been in talks with Wrightbus.

Earlier this week, Northern Ireland industrialist Darren Donnelly pulled out a potential deal with the company.

Image caption North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said he understands that talks between the firm and two potential buyers failed to reach a conclusion on Friday

Latest accounts show Wrightbus made a pre-tax profit of about £5m on turnover of more than £181m in 2017.

But its financial situation has deteriorated since then.

It made two rounds of redundancies last year with 95 jobs going in February and June, which it said reflected continued low levels of demand for new buses in the UK market.

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