Uncertain future for 150-job Washington firm

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A QUESTION mark is hanging over the future of a Washington factory after confirmation its parent company is listening to offers.

In a trading update released to the Stock Exchange, the Tanfield Group confirmed it has had several inquiries about the possible sale of its Snorkel aerial platform division, which employs about 150 people at its factory in Washington’s Vigo Lane.

“The company has received a number of approaches from credible parties, who have expressed interest in making a strategic acquisition of our Global Aerial Work Platform business division in order to enter this recovering market,” says the statement.

“The board is considering these approaches and will provide an update in due course. Any disposal of this business would be subject to shareholder approval.

“There can be no certainty that any negotiations will result in an agreement to dispose of this business. We will keep shareholders informed of any further developments.” Rumours of a possible takeover of Snorkel have been circulating in the industry for some time, with speculation that the firm could be attractive to a number of Chinese firms looking for a well-known brand to help break into the Western market.

Crane and excavator company Sany is the name which has been most frequently linked with a possible bid for Snorkel, though it is unclear what any possible sale would mean for the Washington plant. Snorkel already has a factory in China, along with others in the US and New Zealand.

Tanfield announced it had broken even in October 2012 – the first month it has done so since 2008 – but is still set to report losses over the year.

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