Control of one of Britain’s biggest government contractors, Interserve, has moved to a new company after administrators were appointed.
It comes after shareholders rejected a rescue deal for the company, which has 45,000 UK staff, and 68,000 globally.
Under a pre-arranged agreement, administrators EY were installed and the assets moved immediately to a group controlled by Interserve’s lenders.
Interserve insisted that the deal would protect services and jobs.
The company cleans schools and hospitals, runs catering and probation services, and manages construction projects.
The plan would have seen their stake reduced to just 5%, with lenders being handed the lion’s share of the business.
But after the vote, Interserve said that “in the absence of any viable alternative” rescue plan it would formally apply to the High Court to go into administration.
EY was appointed under a so-called pre-pack administration, an insolvency procedure in which a company arranges to move its assets to a another owner before administrators are officially appointed.
It meant that Interserve could avoid a Carillion-style collapse. However, investors have seen the value of their shares wiped out under the financial restructuring.
The lenders who are now in control of Interserve Group include banks RBS and HSBC, and investors Emerald Asset Management and Davidson Kempner Capital.
In a statement, EY administrator Hunter Kelly said: “This transaction secured the jobs of 68,000 employees, the majority of whom work in the UK, as well as ensuring there was no disruption to the vital public services that Interserve provides to the UK Government.”
Debbie White, chief executive of Interserve Group, said: “Interserve is fundamentally a strong business and with a competitive financial platform in place we see significant opportunities ahead as a best-in-class partner to the public and private sector.”
The company accumulated debt after construction project delays and a failed energy-from-waste project in Derby and Glasgow.