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Cosalt's plans for the future

Published on 28 March 2012
Shareholders will vote on proposals to take Cosalt off the Stock Exchange

The chief executive of Cosalt said yesterday he wanted the company to return to private hands, but added he was confident in the future of the firm even if it remained listed.

Shareholders in the engineering business will vote on proposals to take it off the Stock Exchange later this month, but Trevor Sands said the company was more focused on preparing for the busy months ahead.

Mr Sands said he was certain the company would have collapsed before Christmas without the support of chairman David Ross, whose takeover offer was made unconditional last month.

Mr Ross controls just over 56% of Cosalt's shares and needs 75% of shareholder support at a meeting in Grimsby, where Cosalt is based, on Monday February 27.

Mr Sands said Cosalt and its employees, including 250 at the Aberdeen-based offshore division, felt the business had already turned a corner regardless of the outcome of this month's vote. He said "In our minds the change has happened, the future of the company was secured when the offer closed.

"The whole point of the general meeting is that Cosalt runs up a lot of costs as a public company - around £500,000 per year - and we honestly do not get a lot of benefit out of that."

"The reason for being public was to have access to funds, but at the moment those funds are only coming from the majority shareholder."

"As chief executive of a publicly listed company with no access to funds I am focusing on its regulatory requirements, but I would rather be focusing on opportunities to help the group grow and prosper."

Rob Buchan, chief executive of Cosalt's offshore division, said morale among the company's staff was still high despite the firm's difficult circumstances, adding: "The uncertainty surrounding ownership and stability are now behind us and we want to focus on the business."

Mr Sands said Cosalt had been able to hold on to employees while its future was uncertain. He added: "I am very proud that we have not lost that technical expertise as we gone through these tough times.

"The company still has issues to deal with. It still has large debts the pension-fund defecit has to be resolved."

"That is not going to be sorted out in a few weeks, these are long-term problems, but we are now in a position where we can worry about long-term problems."

David Ross gave Cosalt a £5million loan to provide capital for investment and has said previously he would take on the firm's multimillion-pound debts and pension defecit if it was delisted from the Stock Exchange.

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