More than 250 jobs saved as hi-tech firm bought

MORE than 250 jobs were yesterday saved at Harwell energy and environmental consultancy AEA Technology after it was bought out of administration.

The firm underwent a “pre-pack” administration with multi-industry consultancy Ricardo paying £18m for the business which collapsed because of a £450m black hole in its pension fund.

A total of 258 jobs were saved as a result of the move with Ricardo bosses saying there were no plans to uproot the business, now known as Ricardo-AEA, from its Harwell base. Two people were made redundant.

Robert Bell, managing director of Ricardo-AEA, said: “The transaction both secures the future for AEA Europe and provides a platform for its continued success and growth as a part of the global Ricardo organisation.”

Administrator Will Wright of financial restructuring firm KPMG, said: “Unable to sustain its pension liability, the company faced a funding crisis which necessitated the appointment of administrators.

“The company’s directors undertook comprehensive marketing of the operating businesses and there was a huge amount of interest with over 100 interested parties making contact.

“We are pleased that we have been able to secure new owners.”

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Ricardo did not take over the running of the company pension scheme which administrators said had now been passed on to the Government’s Pension Protection Fund.

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