Fate Of H&W To Come Next Week

Tuesday, August 29, 2000
Harland and Wolff will await the outcome of arbitration next week with a major customer before deciding the fate of the Belfast shipyard. Harland and Wolff's owners, Norwegian offshore group Fred Olsen Energy, said last week the yard was at risk because of a dispute over a final 23 million pound ($33.78 million) payment for a deepwater drill ship. Talks with U.S. rig owner Global Marine, which ordered the drillship, are scheduled to take place in London for three days beginning September 5. On Tuesday, Harland and Wolff said it would do all it could to secure the shipyard's future. "They (management and board) have decided however that no decision can be taken regarding the yard's future prior to the arbitration hearings," the company said in a statement. The arbitration procedure marks another twist in the yard's fortunes. In May, the company's future looked secure after it won a provisional order worth more than $350 million to build two luxury cruise liners. That followed orders for four passenger ferries worth a total $450 million. But it is struggling to keep the yard working at capacity before those orders come on stream. In June it said it was laying off 280 workers.

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