Hopes of selling whole business gone as divisions shut down and potential buyers back away

Rok’s administrators are understood to be considering selling the collapsed firm’s remaining construction and social housing contracts - thought to be worth about £28m a year - as a package after closing down most of the business.

While Pricewaterhouse Coopers, (PwC) which has handled the administration process, said it was still focused on selling that part of the business as a going concern, separate sources close to the sale process said this was unlikely to be achievable.

On Tuesday PwC gave up on selling the whole firm as a going concern, resulting in most of the business being shut down and 1,800 jobs being lost. Building understands the last remaining bidder was social housing firm Kinetics, which ultimately could not agree a deal with the consultant.

Rob Hunt, administrator at PwC, said a deal, which he expected before the end of today, could still save “a big chunk” of the 500 staff kept on in the business. He said the 100 firms that expressed an interest in buying Rok last week fell away after seeing that there had been “quite a drop” in turnover during the last month of its life.

We are still hoping to get a sale of the live business

Rob Hunt, PwC

He said the business had an £80m turnover, but could not guarantee how much would transfer with any sale.

In addition, he said PwC was unable to guarantee that some of the most lucrative customers, for Rok’s reactive repairs business, would not walk away owing to the insolvency process.

Hunt said: “Inevitably customers start to look elsewhere, so potential [Rok] buyers take a view as to how likely they are to get that work. We’re still hoping to get a sale of the live business.”

However, a source close to the process said administrators were now looking at winding up the business and selling a bundle of contracts, because of the lack of interest. The purchaser could choose to take some Rok staff on, but would not be bound to keep the same terms of employment.

The source said: “This could still be a good news story, as some of the staff will be retained. Unfortunately, hour by hour Rok’s customers are peeling off, and the turnover looks down to about £28m.”

Hunt said an additional 150 staff from the rest of the business had been kept on to manage the winding down of the firm.