MPs have promised to get to the bottom of ‘who knew what when’ in advance of the collapse of Carillion as another 152 former employees of the firm lost their jobs.
A joint inquiry by two parliamentary committees has published the responses of major Carillion shareholders to questions about their interaction with the company and the timing and motivation of their share selloffs.
MPs said these ‘show a variety of different perceptions about Carillion among its institutional investors, and very different levels of engagement with the board’.
Frank Field MP, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: ‘There is a disconnect here. On one hand, the Carillion directors told us all was sunny until a bolt of Qatari lightning hit them out of the blue. Their stewardship had, they proudly told us, been adjudged "best in class" by their friends at KPMG.
‘On the other hand, investors were fleeing for the hills, and it appears those who looked closest ran fastest. We will be taking evidence from the auditors and the investors - as well as demanding more company papers - to get to the bottom of who knew what and, most importantly, when.'
Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: ‘Investors spotted that Carillion was heading for disaster and fled. The company had unsustainably high levels of debt, weak cash-generation and was saddled with a widening pensions deficit. It's a tragedy for those who have lost their jobs and the suppliers left struggling for survival that Carillion directors ignored these issues.’
To date 7,610 Carillion jobs have been saved and 1,141 jobs have been made redundant.
A spokesperson for the Official Receiver said on Monday: ‘As a result of agreements entered into over the past week to purchase contracts held by Carillion ongoing employment has been confirmed for 942 employees. Most employees who have transferred so far have done so on existing or similar terms and I will continue to facilitate this wherever possible.
‘Regrettably 152 [more] employees are being made redundant and they will leave the business later this week.
‘Discussions with potential purchasers continue and I expect that the number of jobs safeguarded through the liquidation will continue to rise. I am continuing to engage with staff, elected employee representatives and unions to keep them informed as these arrangements are confirmed.’