Titanic shipyard awarded crucial defence contract after HMRC

The troubled Belfast shipyard that designed the Titanic has been rescued with a £55m defence deal just months after the tax authorities attempted to have the business shut down.

Harland & Wolff has gained the very first defence agreement considering that being acquired 3 decades back to overhaul minesweeper vessels in what it describes as a “watershed” second.

The award comes a lot less than a month soon after Harland & Wolff grew to become embroiled in a row with HM Revenue & Customs.

HMRC petitioned to have the organization wound up for the 2nd time this calendar year in June in excess of an alleged unpaid invoice of £92,275.

The firm insisted that the most current legal assert was designed in error. The taxman, having said that, reported it took motion “where suitable”.

The Ministry of Defence final night refused to remark on no matter whether two winding up petitions issued by HMRC — issued against Harland & Wolff in modern months — were being regarded as in its choice-creating system. 

The most latest court docket motion was filed by HMRC versus Harland & Wolff subsidiary Arnish, which operates on a 38-hectare growth web-site found on the North West coastline of Scotland, on the Isle of Lewis.

3 months earlier, the taxman issued yet another of Harland & Wolff subsidiaries, Firth of Forth shipyard Methil, with a winding up petition.

Equally petitions had been subsequently withdrawn.

Harland & Wolff insisted that its accounting process experienced led to some of its troubles with alleged debts owed to HMRC. 

Harland & Wolff is section of a staff in the operating to construct help ships for the Royal Navy as the pressure tries to diversify its decisions further than the dominant navy shipbuilders BAE Techniques and Babcock. But there is a substantial concern mark in excess of no matter if there is more than enough work to assistance more than a couple military shipyards in the British isles in the very long phrase.

Defence expert Francis Tusa reported: “There’s no dilemma with a bailout as extensive as you recognize what you’re undertaking. Supplying them a glass strengthened plastic boat and expecting that by refurbishing that you will establish up the techniques to be a primary assembly web page is just delusional.”

Harland & Wolff was saved from closure in 2019 right after its ship constructing business dried up and has considering that reinvented alone, successful a deal to overhaul Cunard’s Queen Victoria and P&O Cruises’ ship Aurora.

It is also top one of the closing two bids to build a alternative for HMY Britannia, the new Royal flagship nicknamed “Britain’s Air Power One” by its supporters.

Bosses are aiming to get perform in the expanding wind sector and capitalise on the £4bn financial investment promised by Boris Johnson to assist shipyards in Britain.

The get the job done for the new defence contract, which could last up to two yrs, will be done at its Appledore website in Devon from subsequent month.

Harland will refurbish a retired Royal Navy mine hunter which will be sold to the Lithuanian navy and then kitted out with new gear by BAE Devices, the UK’s biggest defence firm.

John Wood, Harland & Wolff chief executive said: “This is a watershed minute.”

The deal makes the firm “a credible choice to the existing business base,” he additional. “This contract is validation that the Government can go somewhere else, recognising the investment decision and development designed about the last two many years to place the enterprise in a posture to execute on such programmes.”

The announcement was greeted warmly by traders with its London-quoted shares rising by just about a 3rd in advance of settling to 14laptop greater. The enterprise is well worth about £23m.

The corporation is noticeably scaled-down than it when was. Launched in 1861 by Edward Harland and his German business lover, Gustav Wolff, in its pomp the shipbuilder employed 35,000 men and women.

It played a essential function in the Next Planet War, developing 140 warships and 123 merchant vessels as well as more than 500 tanks.

It was nationalised in the 1950s following air travel killed Transatlantic crossings by sea. The very last cruise liner Harland & Wolff designed from scratch was the Canberra in 1960.

Peter Renton, an analyst at the company’s broker Cenkos claimed in a be aware: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlights the worthwhile purpose H&W can engage in in supporting the defence market, as lots of NATO international locations (including the Uk) look to increase their defence shelling out. The resulting surge in oil and gasoline selling prices also demonstrates the significance of accelerating renewable electrical power projects.”

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