A deal to save a stricken Aberdeen paper mill could be finalised in the coming days, the Evening Express understands.
A senior source at the historic Stoneywood Mill said a management buyout of the business is likely to go through this week.
It comes after six directors were appointed to a new company, AW Creative Papers Group Limited, at the end of last week, including the mill’s general manager Angus MacSween.
The mill was plunged into crisis earlier this year after owner Arjowiggins Fine Papers Limited and its French parent firm Sequana went into administration in January.
Iain Fraser, Tom MacLennan and Geoff Rowley, partners at the specialist firm FRP Advisory LLP, were appointed as administrators.
Almost 500 jobs had been under threat at the 250-year-old site, which is the last remaining paper mill in the north-east.
A working group, the Common Purpose Group, was set up to help safeguard the future of the mill, consisting of management, union bosses and local authority leaders.
A preferred bidder had been selected in March, but those discussions ceased and talks with a management buyout team proceeded instead.
Union chiefs hailed those talks as “positive” and it is now understood a deal to safeguard the mill’s future is close to being completed.
The news of a potential buyout was welcomed by north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald, who had also been told by sources that a deal was close.
He said: “If this is confirmed it is excellent news. I have supported a management buyout of the mill from the beginning and I think it’s the right way to go.
“It is important that the terms, conditions and jobs of the workforce are fully protected but I am confident that Unite the Union will work hard to ensure and protect members’ interests.
“A deal here can secure the future for hundreds of jobs in a successful mill in an important industry for years to come.”
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Unite’s regional industrial officer Shauna Wright said: “We are still waiting to hear if the buyout has been successful.
“Unite are working with the management buyout committee and we are awaiting news. We are continuing to support members through this trying time.”
Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn said: “The Scottish Government, alongside Scottish Enterprise, has been working extensively with the administrator, the management team and our partners to explore all options to secure the best possible outcome for this business and its employees. Throughout this process, I have been in regular contact with the administrator, UNITE union and the local management, and I remain hopeful a positive outcome will be achieved.”