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Covpress deal with Liberty House saves 740 jobs

Group which has already rescued parts of Caparo and Tata Steel strengthens its presence in the West Midlands

Almost 750 jobs have been saved at engineering firm Covpress after it was bought by the international industrial group Liberty House.

The deal ends a period of uncertainty for 740 workers at the vehicle pressings and assemblies manufacturer in Canley which had been in administration since September last year.

Their jobs have been secured by the acquisition, which Liberty House described as "a strong strategic fit" with its existing UK businesses in the automotive supply chain.

In 2015, Liberty House bought parts of troubled steel group Caparo in the Black Country and last year acquired parts of Tata Steel.

Covpress, which will be renamed Liberty Pressing Solutions, will sit alongside Liberty Industries Group, part of Liberty House Group, which already has 17 engineering businesses employing more than 1,000 people across the West Midlands.

The deal, which completed with administrators Grant Thornton late last night, was hailed as a huge vote of confidence in Covpress's 355,200 sq ft, which has been on its Burnsall Road site for 120 years.

The metal stamping and robotic assembly specialist supplies Jaguar Land Rover, Renault and GM, while Liberty Industries already supplies a range of components to Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and BMW among others.

Covpress products include suspension housings, fuel tank protectors and wheel arches.

Liberty and sister company SIMEC say they aim to reduce reliance on imports and supply UK vehicle manufacturers with more components made from British aluminium and steel, using renewable energy and recycled metal.

There were always high hopes for Covpress' future as the firm had a full order book and had benefited from investment in the latest machinery.

Shortly after it went into administration, Grant Thornton revealed there had been between 40 and 50 expressions of interest from potential buyers.

The bank ABN AMRO Commercial Finance will be providing finance as part of the deal.

Douglas Dawson, chief executive of Liberty Industries Group, said: "We are very familiar with the high quality of the operation at Covpress and the skills and equipment in the business.

"As such, we are extremely pleased they are becoming part of the Liberty Industries Group. We have drawn up a detailed plan to ensure the future sustainability and profitability of the business.

"That will include ongoing capital investment, strengthened financial management and the benefits that will come from joint purchasing and marketing with our other operations in the UK."

Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group, added: "There exists a huge opportunity for Britain's industrial supply chain to achieve dynamic growth through becoming more innovative and competitive.

"By adding quality operations like Covpress to Liberty's already thriving network, we aim to play a leading part in this landmark economic shift."

Joint administrator Eddie Williams said: "Covpress is a fundamentally strong business.

"After an extensive sale process which involved significant expressions of interest, I am delighted to have concluded a sale which provides the workforce with some good news in early 2017."

Pension specialists Lane Clark & Peacock advised Liberty during the negotiations.

Members of the pension scheme can now look forward to receiving their benefits in full rather than reduced benefits from the Pension Protection Fund.

Covpress had a turnover of around £98million before it went into administration.

It had grown significantly since its majority shareholding acquisition by Chinese company Shandong Yongtai Group in 2013 in a £30 million deal.

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