Outsourcing giant Interserve is reportedly going to be put into administration today with nearly 5,000 apprentices on its books.
However, the company has insisted this will not be a Carillion-style collapse and it is very much business as usual, with no big job losses anticipated.
Shareholders at Interserve, which employs 45,000 people in the UK, today failed to secure investor backing for a rescue plan, meaning lenders who lent the company more than £600 million will now seize control of it, according to the BBC.
The outsourcing giant is an international support services and construction group with huge UK government contracts in areas including health, education and defence.
It also runs a large UK training provider called Interserve Learning and Employment Ltd, which is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and holds ESFA contracts worth £10.6 million – but this doesn’t factor in its apprenticeship levy contracts.
According to it websites, the provider trains “around 14,000 apprentices each year”. Skills minister Anne Milton said Interserve had around had 4,567 apprentices on programme as of November 2018, in an answer to a parliamentary question in December.
Interserve told FE Week it will be business as usual if the company does go into administration, and it will honour all of its contracts, meaning there will be minimal disruption to the apprentices it trains and employs.
A formal statement is expected to be released later today.
Interserve accumulated debt after construction project delays and a failed energy-from-waste project.
The crisis surrounding the outsourcing giant has sparked fears that it could be heading for the same fate as its former rival Carillion, which went insolvent in January 2018.
Over 1,100 apprentice bricklayers, carpenters and builders were left jobless in the wake of the collapse.
Interserve told FE Week today its position is not the same as Carillion.
UPDATE: Administrators Ernst and Young were appointed late on Friday and the company’s assets were moved immediately to a group controlled by Interserve’s lenders.
Debbie White, chief executive of the Interserve Group, said: “With a stronger financial platform in place, Interserve will be able to concentrate on delivering value for our customers.
“Interserve is fundamentally a strong business and with a competitive financial platform in place we see significant opportunities ahead as a best-in-class partner to the public and private sector.”