EIGHT companies say they are interested in moving into Portsmouth’s shipyard.
Robin Dickens, director of Lambert Smith Hampton, the firm responsible for finding businesses to move into the shipyard, said there are ‘some seriously incredible bids’ being put forward.
He told The News: ‘We have had eight formal expressions of interest.
‘We have been quite encouraged to see how much interest has been put forward.
‘The marketing process has got to an important milestone now.
‘We are looking for a further decision from the minister to announce what we have proposed.
‘I think the ministry has been more than satisfied by what we have done.’
Mr Dickens said a range of firms from the UK and Europe involved in the marine, shipbuilding, energy, engineering and composites sectors have come forward.
A new company could take over the running of the site by Easter next year, with BAE Systems wrapping up its work in the shipyard at the end of 2014.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said she was happy with the progress made so far by the marketers.
‘I am very grateful to the agents,’ she said.
‘They have kept me up to speed with the progress.
‘I am going to be doing everything I can to ensure that we are branded the maritime heart of the country.’
Councillor John Ferrett, leader of Portsmouth City Council’s Labour group and Prospect union negotiator, said: ‘We are concerned that staff will have gone and found work somewhere else by the time this is ready.
‘We wanted everybody to move into the support side of the business.
‘That is why we said if there was to be a closure, it should go with the arrival of the new aircraft carrier.
‘We know that some people have moved to other companies already.
‘We are concerned when workers leave, the skills will be gone.
‘If they can’t get someone into the shipyard then they will have to spend more money on having it decommissioned.’
Sarah Stanton, director of Stanton Burdett, which provides project management for the marine and defence sectors and is based in the city, said: ‘The Portsmouth shipbuilding footprint, skills heritage and maritime location offer a unique prospect which has been recognised through the expressions of interest received to date.’