ADMINISTRATORS for collapsed technology firm Kaiam have received more than 20 expressions of interest from potential buyers, MSPs have been told.
The optical manufacturer told workers at its Livingston plant on Christmas Eve that 310 of the 338 workforce were being made redundant with immediate effect.
Almond Valley SNP MSP Angela Constance raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament, asking Business Minister Jamie Hepburn to “condemn outright” those whose “actions or inactions” had led to the collapse, but also to commend the community volunteers and council staff who collected and distributed toys, food and gift vouchers as well as raising over £22,000 for those affected.
She also asked for an update on efforts to find a suitable buyer for the business.
Mr Hepburn told her: “I can say that I discussed the matter with KPMG earlier today, and it has informed me that it has received in excess of 20 expressions of interest from various parties. Scottish Enterprise has already, through the administrator, set out what support it may be able to offer any potential buyer.”
Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay pressed Mr Hepburn on the Scottish Government’s involvement before the job losses were announced.
He said: “On five separate occasions prior to December 24, ministers were warned about major problems that threatened pay and jobs at Kaiam. That situation ended up with 300 workers with no pay and no job.
“Will the minister answer this question directly: did he at any point in the period between November 22 and December 24 ask the company to inform workers that their jobs and pay were at risk?”
Mr Hepburn said there had been on-going engagement between Scottish Enterprise and the company. “The difficulty that we had with this situation is that the circumstances were never the same at any given time. When we were first notified about the matter, it was not about the company closing but about finding a buyer. Thereafter, it was about actions to secure funding and to pursue a sale proposal.
“It was only much later on that the possibility of the company going into administration became apparent. We have done everything in the intervening period to try to support the company and, ultimately, to support its workforce, which we continue to do.”
Ms Constance said the news that KPMG had already received over 20 expressions of interest about buying the business was “very welcome”.
“The Minister also confirmed that there will be continued support from government agencies to help the former Kaiam employees. This includes working with the administrators to secure redundancy payments, as well as organising a jobs fair in Bathgate for January 17 to help people get back into work as quickly as possible.”
Holyrood’s economy committee is to hold an evidence session to hear from Scottish Enterprise about the situation at Kaiam.