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Botes failure spreads as HN Edwards marooned

News - Basingstoke contractor forced into administration now hoping to sell rm and protect its 127 employees

ANOTHER contractor in the Botes stable went into administration last week.

HN Edwards was placed in the hands of administrator Kroll following a turbulent few weeks at Botes.

Botes' maintenance and construction arms called in Kroll as administrators a fortnight ago but Botes Maintenance was bought for £3.25 million by Connaught on Monday saving 200 jobs.

Basingstoke-based Edwards went into administration last week and Kroll was hoping to tie up a deal as Construction News went to press to sell the £33 million turnover firm and safeguard the future of its 127 employees.

Kroll partner Peter Saville said: 'We are currently in talks with a number of interested parties with regards to the sale of HN Edwards. We are hopeful that a sale will be achieved.'

Botes Maintenance, Botes Construction and Edwards were all owned by a holding company called GGS which is in administration.

GGS was owned by investment firm Epic Reconstruction which specialises in turning around troubled companies.

Epic announced a deal to pump £5 million into GGS in March.

Epic caused outrage among Botes employees when it initially agreed to buy Botes Maintenance from the administrators. But Mr Saville said the deal was a provisional sale which allowed the company to continue trading while he looked for a better offer.

He said: 'Without a provisional sale at the outset of administration, closure of the business would have been necessary, resulting in limited dividends to creditors as well as redundancies.'

Connaught fought off competition from 17 other firms to land Botes Maintenance.

Mark Tincknell, Connaught's chairman, said: 'This acquisition complements our activities extremely well by significantly strengthening our reactive maintenance operations in London and the south-east.'

Botes Construction was working on 16 contracts at the time of administration and Kroll hope to novate five by the end of this week using existing subcontractors.

Around 60 staff have been made redundant with the remaining 30 expected to go once all the jobs have been sold or shutdown.

A spokesman for Epic said: 'A number of problem contracts came to light which weren't picked up during our due diligence period which made administration the only solution.'