[SYDNEY, NS] — A group of Cape Breton businessmen has purchased Laurentian Steel Fabricators and the Sydport Industrial Park from Laurentian Energy Corp.
The group — Jim Kehoe, Donnie Sives, Andre Cote and Sean Burke — announced the purchase via a news release Wednesday afternoon.
“It was up for sale by Laurentian Energy and there were two bidders, there was our group and then there was New Dawn,” Kehoe said in an interview. “Our price was higher than theirs, the offer that we put in place, and the shareholders of Laurentian voted onto it and we won by I think it was 69 per cent or something.”
Kehoe declined to say how much the group paid for the assets saying there were “some other things” included in the offer.
“We’re paying down some debt and some stuff like that so it’s a little bit difficult to explain exactly what the bid was,” he said.
No government money was involved in the deal, Kehoe said.
In the release, Sives said it would remain business as usual at both operations while the partners implement their plans to better position the sites to take advantage of opportunities in fabrication and manufacturing.
The purchase of the park assets includes the wharves and rail line.
Kehoe said there are currently only about 10 jobs associated with the sites and they believe there is potential for growth.
“We want to at least maintain those jobs and try to grow them instead of letting the place close up,” he said.
In January, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality listed 36 properties belonging to Laurentian that were be sold at public auction but it subsequently paid its $637,000 tax bill. At the time, an Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. spokesman, D.A. Landry, said Laurentian also owed ECBC $640,000 for its 1999 purchase of the Sydport Industrial Park in Edwardsville.
Last month, Laurentian sold a greenfield site to the CBRM for $6 million. The CBRM hopes to market it for development of a container terminal.
Kehoe said they plan to look at projects taking place in both Atlantic and western Canada that have the potential to provide fabrication work. He added they also want to further develop the port assets, as well as rent out warehouses and other facilities.
As early as next week, they plan to start the process of using a headhunting firm to find the right personnel to manage and promote the sites.
Kehoe, who was a director with Laurentian Energy, said he believes the site has never met its full potential and that can be changed with a different management team.
“There were just too many people involved, people with different ideas, that we had much difficulty managing the place,” he said, adding he’s confident in the smaller group, and noting they each manage successful businesses of their own.