INVERCLYDE Chamber of Commerce says that the Scottish Government could be making a mistake by taking Ferguson's shipyard over.

The business body has called on ministers to search for new commercial investors before going ahead with any public ownership bid for the stricken Port Glasgow yard, which has been plunged into crisis by a financially-ruinous ferries order.

Bosses at the yard announced at the end of last week that they were set to put the company into administration this Friday, but the government - who are owed £45m in loans by the shipyard and are still waiting on two long-delayed ferries being completed - declared on Monday that they were set to step in to save the 350 jobs of staff.

Chamber president Gavin McDonagh said: "While we recognise and appreciate the Scottish Government's position to consider all commercially viable options we understand that public ownership is being discussed.

"The Chamber fears that this could be a negative step in the long-term.

"Inverclyde’s economy cannot afford to lose the business leadership and entrepreneurism of Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd.

"Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce, therefore, is calling upon the Scottish Government to exhaust all other avenues, including potential new investors, before taking this step."

The Chamber believes that nationalisation could leave the yard, owned by Jim McColl's Clyde Blowers empire, unable to capitalise on future opportunities and believes it would be better equipped staying in private ownership.

Mr McDonagh said: “Ferguson Marine Engineering is of substantial strategic importance to the Inverclyde economy, as well as playing a vital role in the regeneration of Port Glasgow.

"It’s influences and importance to Inverclyde should not be understated.

“The level of investment by Clyde Blowers Capital has helped to make the yard one of the most technologically advanced and modern shipbuilding environments in the world, and something we are very proud to have here in Inverclyde.

“It’s entrepreneurial spirit and cutting-edge methods should be supported and managed carefully to ensure it continues to develop.

"We remain fully supportive of our members, Ferguson Marine and CalMac, both of whom have contributed to creating and sustaining much needed jobs and skills for all of Inverclyde.

"As the representative voice of Inverclyde’s business community, we are ready to contribute positively to working with all parties in an attempt to move this position forward reaching a mutually

acceptable option, which will safeguard the private ownership of this business and the highly skilled jobs within Ferguson Marine Engineering”.