Carillion crisis: Government holds last-ditch rescue talks with company bosses

British construction group Carillion announced its immediate liquidation Monday after the heavily-indebted company failed to secure a financial rescue from the United Kingdom government and banks in last-ditch talks.

Spun out of Tarmac almost 20 years ago and including such construction names as Wimpey and Alfred McAlpine, Carillion operates in Britain, Ireland, Canada, the Middle East and North Africa.

Ministers, top bankers and company bosses scrambled to find a way to save the company in last ditch talks over the weekend.

Carillion's creditors include, Santander UK, and others.

Britain's government refused to rescue Carillion, saying it could not be expected to bail out a private company.

However, it remained possible that those lenders to the UK's second-biggest construction group could yet change their minds, according to some people close to it. Carillion also reported a pension deficit of up to £800m, which is now being dealt with by the Pension Protection Fund.

The PPF reassured employees on Monday that their benefits would be protected.

Unless told otherwise, all employees, agents and subcontractors are being asked to continue to work as normal and they will be paid for the work they do during the liquidations.

The government's role is complicated by its reliance on the contractor for a wide range of services: the maintenance of military bases, school meal provision and work on some of the UK's highest-profile public works projects, including the HS2 high-speed rail line.

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He added that the union was investigating whether Carillion's challenges were affecting pay flow for workers building the new Aberdeen bypass.

Government sources had said that emergency talks on Sunday concluded with John Manzoni, the permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, announcing that Carillion would not receive any special support from taxpayers.

Jim Kennedy, a senior official at the Unite union, called for a public inquiry and said there were "serious questions that need to be asked and answered about Carillion's conduct", while he questioned also why the government handed "public money to a company that had issued repeated profits warnings".

Carillion needed £300m of short-term funding from the end of this month, and its banks had previously indicated that they were reluctant to provide it without significant support from the Government.

The company said despite considerable efforts, discussions to secure funding have not been successful and has therefore decided to make an application to the High Court for a compulsory liquidation of the business.

Carillion was forced into compulsory liquidation after costly contract delays and a downturn in new business that prompted a string of profit warnings and a first-half loss of more than 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion).

Earlier this month, the company was dealt a fresh blow when the City watchdog launched a probe into the "timeliness and content" of statements it made to the‎ stock market about its financial position between December 2016 and July a year ago, when a massive profit warning sent its shares crashing by 75%.

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Since then, the company has cleared out its executive team, including chief executive Richard Howson and finance director Zafar Khan.

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