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Schmidlin rescued

Troester TSK outbids Indian aluminium manufacturer to save cladding firm

CLADDING firm Schmidlin has been saved after private German company TSK Troester bought the Swiss outfit from receivers last week.

It won a bidding contest against Indian aluminium manufacturer Europan for Schmidlin, which is the company behind the cladding of iconic London buildings including the 'Gherkin' at 30 St Mary Axe.

Schmidlin, which went bust last month, restarted production at its manufacturing base in Aesch, Switzerland, on Monday. It will trade under the name of Schmidlin TSK.

Troester TSK is a global company of around 50 firms, including structural systems and raised access f loors.

Laing O'Rourke ? which has been in the market for a cladding contractor for some time ? also considered a bid for the firm. Chairman Bernard Dempsey was looking at the business but was put off by the Swiss location and withdrew from the race.

Two years ago Laing O'Rourke was also linked with Chinese cladding company Yuanda but the deal did not go ahead. The company declined to comment.

Mike Hollis, the managing director of Schmidlin's UK subsidiary, said: 'We're just relieved that production has begun again after Troester gave sufficient undertakings to the receiver over protecting jobs.

'Things are looking very healthy for us in the UK and we just want to get back to normality.' Schmidlin's UK division, which employs 200 people, is working on a number of London schemes, including White City, Heathrow's Terminal 5 and Plot 4 of the More London development.

While the company's UK operation has been profitable, its Swiss parent has been in the red since 2003, complaining of high manufacturing costs and low margins due to risky and complex new building projects.

It was forced to file for bankruptcy on February 23 when a new accounting system uncovered a further £5.6 million in losses on two projects.