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'Boris Bus' maker Wrightbus enters administration

The 'Boris' bus become one of the landmarks of London and symbol for Great Britain. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

One of Northern Ireland’s biggest employers, coach-builder Wrightbus, has gone into administration, according to the Unite union.

Wrightbus is one of the UK’s largest bus manufacturers and the Ballymena-based company is best known for making London’s new double-decker Routemaster, known as the “Boris Bus” —commissioned by prime minster Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London in 2007.

Around 1,400 jobs could be lost.

It is one of Northern Ireland’s largest employers and its loss is a major blow in the same week as travel firm Thomas Cook’s collapse.

Historic shipbuilder Harland and Wolff also fell into administration this year — yet another blow to Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector and economy.

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The North Antrim firm has been seeking investment or a new owner as it struggles with cash problems.

Negotiations with JCB heir Jo Bamford, and Chinese manufacturing company Weichai failed to result in a deal that would save Wrightbus.

The DUP MP Ian Paisley told the BBC earlier on Wednesday that administration was inevitable.

"Essentially from this point the administrator has a week to find a buyer," he said.

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The company has £15m in annual loses, and it is estimated that a £30m capital injection will be needed.

Sky News reported that financial services firm Deloitte will likely be appointed Wrightbus’s administrator.