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Schmidlin rescue looms

Collapsed Swiss cladding company the target of four bids as UK arm trades on

A DEAL to save cladding contractor Schmidlin was on the cards this week as its Swiss receiver weighed up at least four bids for the company.

Schmidlin Façade Technology ? the company behind the cladding of the 'Gherkin' at 30 St Mary Axe ? went bust on February 22, closing its Aesch manufacturing base in Switzerland and leaving its UK subsidiary in the lurch.

But the company's UK managing director, Mike Hollis, said: 'I am very optimistic about a deal. The receiver had around 10 companies express interest and there are at least four firm bids on the table.

'It's in the hands of the receiver at the moment but we are hopeful a deal will be done by the end of the week.' It is understood that three of these bids are from European firms.

Schmidlin's UK division is dependent on the Swiss manufacturing base for the bespoke cladding units used on several high-profile projects across London. These include Heathrow's T5, Plot 4 of the More London scheme and the White City retail development in west London.

Mr Hollis added: 'Clearly these are very anxious times for our clients who are waiting for some firm developments, but we are still working on all our sites, there are no interruptions and we are still paying our people.

'Our major priority remains restarting our production as soon as possible.' A deal would safeguard the jobs of 200 employees of Schmidlin UK, and 750 worldwide.

Schmidlin was founded in 1936, and has traded in the UK since 1979. The company, which was working on 32 projects, blamed increasing pressure on margins, complex building designs and higher manufacturing costs for the collapse.

The company's joint venture operation in the United Arab Emirates remains intact and is in negotiations with the receiver over forming a new company, Schmidlin Technology, to complete projects in the region.