More jobs go at Rok, says PwC

Marion Dakers
THE ADMINISTRATORS for housing repair firm Rok made a further 1,800 people redundant yesterday, after it failed to find an interested buyer for large parts of the business.

A total of 2,600 staff, around three quarters of Rok’s total staff, have now lost their jobs, with administrator PwC still in last-ditch talks with rivals to sell on viable parts of the business.

“Regrettably, the redundancies made today were necessary as it became clear in the last 24 hours that we were not going to be able to find a purchaser for these parts of the group,” said Rob Hunt, joint administrator and partner at PwC.

Hunt said talks were ongoing to sell the firm’s construction and social housing division in England, which employs 500 people.

Rival firms such as Mears, which took some of Connaught’s contracts when it went under in September, are still in discussions about a purchase, while others including Morgan Sindall are understood to be chasing clients rather than taking on Rok’s operations.

PwC is thought to have planned for a much swifter disposal of parts of the business, but circling rivals have been put off by the low returns Rok had accepted in order to win contracts.

Before going into administration, Rok had already begun to look into a debt refinancing, even though its £90m revolving credit facility is due to expire in March 2012 and its burden was far less than that seen at social housing peer Connaught, which went under in September.

Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC were two of Rok’s main creditors.

Rok’s shares were suspended at 18?p last Monday.