Nearly 560 UK jobs have been saved, including 450 in Aberdeen, after the sale of two closure-threatened subsidiaries of French paper maker Arjo Wiggins.
Geoff Rowley, Iain Fraser, Tom MacLennan and Phil Reynolds, partners with specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory and joint administrators of Arjowiggins Fine Papers (AFP) and Arjowiggins Chartham, said today the business and assets of both companies had been sold to a management buyout (MBO) team for an undisclosed sum.
The businesses have been acquired by subsidiaries of a new venture, Creative Paper Holdings, which was formed specifically for the purposes of the deal.
All staff are transferring to the new owners, with immediate effect. The jobs saved include 82 in Chartham, Kent, and 27 in Basingstoke.
AFP operated the Stoneywood plant, in Aberdeen, which has manufactured fine and custom papers since 1770, plus an administration centre in Basingstoke.
Arjowiggins Chartham operated the Chartham Mill, which has manufactured translucent papers since 1938.
Funding for the deals has been provided through investment by the MBO team, lending facilities, loan and equity finance from Scottish Enterprise.
Mr Fraser said: “After a challenging eight months for everyone, we are delighted to have concluded a deal with the management buyout team that has saved 450 highly-skilled jobs in Scotland and 559 jobs across the UK.
“The support we have received from the staff, Unite union, suppliers, customers, politicians and the local communities has been crucial, particularly the outstanding team effort provided by everyone at the Stoneywood plant to keep the business trading in order to provide the management buyout team with the maximum help to complete a complex deal.
“We would like to thank them for their help and shared determination to save the businesses. We wish the new management team and the staff every success with their plans for the future.”
The union Unite welcomed the announcement. Regional industrial officer Shauna Wright said: “Unite are glad that after an extensive period of uncertainty for the staff and the local community the management buyout of the Stoneywood Mill in Aberdeen has been successful.
“We look forward to working with the new management structure going forward and continuing our recognition agreement with the company on behalf of our members.
“It’s also appropriate to thank all of the Unite shop stewards who have continued to seek the best possible outcomes for their members during this difficult time.”
Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said he was “delighted” with the move.
He added: “The priority now is to work closely with the new owners to realise their plans for the long-term success of the business, and identify future opportunities in the sector, which ultimately benefits the local economy and wider north-east economy.”
Steve Dunlop, the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “I’m very pleased that the management buy-out has been agreed and that a future has been secured for the business and its skilled employees.
“This result is the culmination of nine months of hard work from everyone involved and I’d like to congratulate all parties on reaching this milestone.”
North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald raised the possibility of a management buy-out earlier this year, and said he was pleased with the news.
“The workforce and the unions should be congratulated on their efforts to secure the future of the mill,” he said.
“With the right investment, Stoneywood paper mill will provide jobs in Aberdeen for many years to come.”
And independent Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald said: “Credit is due to everyone who pulled together to work with management and get this deal over the line.
“It is great that the mill has a positive future and I hope to meet with the management team to hear more about their plans for the business.”