MEMBERS of a Melrose-based syndicate of so-called “angel” investors are set to take a big financial hit if a Kelso engineering firm, which went into liquidation last week, cannot be saved.

Borders Precision Engineering Ltd ceased trading at its Pinnaclehill plant with the loss of 79 skilled jobs following the collapse, during the previous week, of a large order with an aerospace company.

“The business experienced severe trading issues with the loss of a major contract on which it was heavily reliant,” explained Robin Knight of provisional liquidators Alix Partners.

“This is a highly skilled workforce working in a precision market and we will be doing our very best to find a viable solution.” A glimmer of hope for the future of the business was emitted on Monday when Borders MP Calum Kerr and South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse met the liquidators in Edinburgh.

After the meeting, the SNP pair said they had been informed that a number of employees had been “asked back” to help fulfil outstanding contracts.

“What we heard today is heartening,” said Mr Kerr.

“I would not want to raise false hopes, but there does seem to be a possibility that something could be rescued and Paul and I intend to pursue this as hard as we can.

“Alix Partners are clearly doing all they can to resurrect the plant and operations as a going concern. However, they have to act in the best interests of creditors and can’t keep the offer of a sale on the table forever.

“I’d urge anyone who thinks they may be interested in taking over the business to get in touch without delay. There’s clearly a limited window in which investment can be achieved.” Mr Wheelhouse added: “The fact some of the workforce have been taken back can only be a good sign. Let’s hope it signals that the firm may yet have a future.” The bulk of the employees, made redundant with immediate effect and without notice, were due to attend a special information and advice event at Kelso’s Tait Hall yesterday (Tuesday), hosted by Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) and led by Skills Development Scotland.

“Redundancy is a stressful situation and many people do not know where to turn to get the support they need,” said PACE adviser Colin Henderson. “We hope to ensure those affected can access the information – from financial advice to finding new employment – they need.” Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston said the demise of the company and the loss of so may skilled local jobs were “devastating”.

The firm, founded as Border Precision Ltd in 1976, has had a chequered recent trading history, having been forced into administration in January 2013.

In the spring of that year it was announced that the business had been sold to a new company – Border Precision Engineering Ltd - in a £500,000 management buy-out thanks to an investment by Tweed Renaissance Investors Capital (TRI Cap).

Over 20 members of that Melrose-based syndicate who were persuaded to invest in the buy-out now face losses if no “viable solution” can be found.

A report by administrators Grant Thornton shows that Borders Precision Ltd still has claims from unsecured creditors of £1.8m with approval for the administration being continued until January next year having been granted by the court.

The latest list of shareholders and their holdings for Border Precision Engineering Ltd, registered at Companies House as recently as April, 2015, reveals the names of those who invested in the ill-fated management buy-out.

These include Patrick Campbell-Fraser 15,000 £1 shares; Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn 18,500; Patrick Scott Plummer, Kelso 27,500; David Sturrock (solicitor and former company secretary of Border Precision Ltd) 5,000; Andrew Lubbock of Harwood 20,000; Walter Gervase Riddell-Carre (recently joined the TRI Cap board) 23,000; Robert Dick (chairman of TRI Cap) 8,556; Gavin Stevenson (vice chairman of TRI Cap) 10,000; Andy Purves (secretary of TRI Cap) 5,000; David John Dalglish 17,111; Jules Livingston 15,000; and Ranworth Capital Ltd (whose Jamie Andrew replaced Gavin Stevenson as a director of Border Precision Engineering Ltd in May 2015) 55,000.