Wrightbus deal agreed

Wrightbus looks likely to have been saved from administration, with a last-minute deal brokered.

JCB heir, Jo Bamford, has agreed in principle to buy the factory. Bamford was tipped as a potential buyer of the business in the weeks before Wrightbus entered administration. A sticking point leading to the deal previously not going ahead was farmland that was not considered part of the factory site. However, the 40 acres of farmland has now been gifted by former-owner, Jeff Wright, to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as a tribute to his father, Sir William Wright and the company’s workers.

Work on the deal is ongoing with the administrators, Deloitte. There has been no official indication how many of the 1,200 jobs will be saved. The administrators were unable to comment on the deal until it had been completely signed off.

Northern Ireland’s industry support body, Manufacturing NI, Tweeted: “Great news that a deal has been struck on the land which frees the way up to do a deal with the Administrator BUT Deloitte have a responsibility to make sure that in saving some jobs at Wrightbus they don’t kill jobs in the SME supply chain who are owed millions. Not over yet.”

Ian Paisley MP said: “I welcome the announcement today by Jo Bamford that after weeks of hard work a deal has now been made on the Wrightbus sight and is concluding the final arrangements with the administrator to take over Wrightbus and get men and women back to work building buses in Ballymena. I am delighted that after asking Jo Bamford to consider Ballymena as a location for a significant business investment this has resulted in this deal.

“The farmland that will be a legacy to William Wright’s industrial prowess is a fitting tribute to him and I know that Jo Bamford will work with the council on making sure that is used accordingly. To the workers of Ballymena I salute your fortitude and patience and hope you are never put through something like this again.”

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister, said: “I am delighted by the news of a deal to save Wrightbus.

“I want to commend all who made this possible, many working tirelessly behind the scenes. I particularly salute the fortitude of the workers. The agreement to gift the farmland to the Council is an equitable and sensible outcome. Now, all need to bind together to make this factory great again.

“With all the rancour that was stirred, we now need a time of healing. The Wright family, especially under Sir William Wright, made an immeasurable contribution to jobs and prosperity in Ballymena and further afield. Sir William’s vision and entrepreneurship put Ballymena on the map with cutting edge technology in the bus sector and it is this which will go on giving in terms of future success.

“So, let’s put the last few weeks behind us and all pull with the new owner to move forward with confidence and success.”

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