Scotland business

Ferguson Marine says it will lose £40m on new CalMac ferries

Launch of the UK's first LNG passenger ferry Image copyright Mark F Gibson
Image caption The delayed ferries are at the centre of a row between Ferguson Marine and the Scottish government's ferry company

The shipbuilder with the contract to build two delayed CalMac new ferries has said it will lose £39.5m on the deal.

The latest accounts for Ferguson Marine show the Inverclyde yard made a loss of £60.1m in 2016.

Ferguson Marine claims "interference and disruption" from the Scottish government's ferry company is to blame for the losses.

The firm also wants to renegotiate the terms of its £45m government loan.

Owner Jim McColl - who rescued the yard from administration in 2014 - put £8.5m into Ferguson Marine from one of his other companies, according to the accounts.

The two dual-fuel ships - which can be powered by liquefied natural gas as well as diesel - will operate on CalMac's Clyde and Hebridean routes.

They have been ordered by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), which buys and leases the CalMac ships on behalf of the Scottish government.

'Interference and disruption'

In its accounts, which were filed over a year late, Ferguson Marine stated: "The directors believe that post contract award, variations, interference, and disruption caused by the customer have resulted in additional unforeseen costs."

But CMAL rejects this and has previously insisted Ferguson Marine has to stick to the terms of its £97m fixed-price contract.

The row is set to go to the courts.

The Ferguson Marine accounts state the contract row and losses "may cast doubt on the ability to continue as a going concern" for the yard, but the report also adds the firm- which employs 300 people - is confident that its diversification efforts will pay off.

Ferguson Marine has been given access to a total of £45m in Scottish government loans.

The firm is trying to renegotiate the terms of these loans and the Scottish government has also said it will enter into discussions over extending how much time the Port Glasgow yard has to repay one of the loans.

Claims experts

Ferguson Marine's accounts for 2017 were due to be filed in September.

A spokesman for Ferguson Marine said: "In our latest published accounts, we have provided for identified cost overruns, in line with accepted accounting standards.

"These cost overruns are a direct result of the unforeseen complexities of building the two prototype, first in class, dual fuel LNG vessels for our client, CMAL. We fully expect to recover the costs identified and are subsequently in discussions with professional claims experts, with the aim of submitting a formal claim to CMAL within the next few weeks.

"We firmly believe that following a period of remarkable transformation, which has seen significant investment into the yard's facilities and workforce, Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited is now well placed to embark on an exciting phase of sustained growth.

"Our diversification strategy has unquestionably led to recent project wins, including securing a contract to build a world-first self-propelled air cushioned barge, but has also created a huge pipeline of exciting opportunities in an array of different sectors which we intend to fully capitalise on."

CMAL declined to comment.

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