VION Hall’s Update Statement 17/10

Peter Barr, chairman of VION UK said: “Following a series of inaccurate statements and untruths in the media by Mr Steve Green in relation to the Hall’s of Broxburn plant, I would like to provide clarification on a number of points."

Mr Green has made reference to ‘a seven-figure bid to buy the factory’ tabled by Graf Mortgage Corporation. He makes no mention of his demand that VION pay him an eight-figure sum, in cash, to take over the business. In addition, he also fails to reference the fact that he asked for all equipment, vehicles, stock and transitional services to be provided to him at no cost, the value of which we would estimate at a similar amount.  In spite of this demand for tens of millions of pounds, Mr Green has been unwilling to provide us with the most basic information to validate his proposal to safeguard the ongoing employment of the workforce.

He further claims ‘there were no lawyers involved, there were no accountants involved’. VION has in-house finance and legal teams and we, therefore, have no requirement for external advisors. Mr Green has had significant e-mail communication with our accountants.

Prior to acceptance of any bid, and before proceeding to Heads of Terms, there would be no requirement for Mr Green to deal with our legal team. On the same basis, we have had no contact with Mr Green’s accountants or lawyers other than a brief e-mail from his lawyer, Mr Gary Withey, confirming that he had been instructed with regard to the proposed transaction. Mr Green states that he ‘can save the 1,700 jobs’. This statement is in direct contradiction to an email sent to our finance director on Sunday 14th October in which he states that ‘reduction in head count at Broxburn would be in the region of 500-800’. 
Mr Green also claims that ‘they would not allow us to have access to the site’. This is patently untrue since he is fully aware that one of our senior directors spent five hours giving three of his proposed management team a tour of the facility. It is also claimed by Mr Green that ‘they would not give us due diligence’. This is again untrue as we provided an information pack and responded to all requests for information re the Hall’s business.

Interestingly, Mr Green recently stated in a press interview that his company have spent four weeks examining the books at Hall’s with a view to taking over the plant as a going concern, a direct contradiction of his claim on due diligence. It is also interesting that, in an email to one of our finance team, Mr Green refers to the above interview – subsequently reported in the Daily Record newspaper on 8th October – as ‘largely fiction’.

Mr Green has stated that ‘they told us that it’s their intention to no longer source or breed Scottish pigs’. This is once again untrue. In the event of a site closure, we remain committed to growing our own pigs at our Brydock farm complex in the North of Scotland as well as continuing to procure from Scottish Pig Producers, albeit that these pigs would be slaughtered at our Malton site in Yorkshire.

In summary, I am appalled at the serious inaccuracies and, in several cases, blatant untruths included in Mr Green’s comments. As we have already stated, VION were prepared to offer substantial financial assistance to support the acquisition. We have on many occasions urged him to provide us with full details of his business plan and funding which he has refused to do. He also refused to have independent accountants verify the funding he claims is available for the turnaround.

He stated in an e-mail to our finance director on 14th October that ‘there is very little science to our delivery on business plans just dogged determination.’ We find it incredible that he has failed to prepare a detailed plan for his financial backers and cannot understand why he is unwilling to share this plan with us or with the Scottish Government.

Sadly, by issuing these inaccurate statements via the media, Mr Green has done nothing to assist the process of progressing a sale of the Hall’s site. His only achievement has been to raise false hopes amongst our employees that the plant could be saved.

Issued by The BIG Partnership on behalf of VION UK
For further information contact, Stephen McCrossan, The BIG Partnership, on +44 (0)141 333 9585 or +44 (0)7866 569639.