Rishi Sunak plans ‘Project Birch’ for ‘last resort’ bailout of vital companies


"We are now at the stage of that plan when we can get our lives a little bit more back to normal - but that is not an overnight, big bang thing -- it is measured, progressive," said Chancellor Rishi Sunak. (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
"We are now at the stage of that plan when we can get our lives a little bit more back to normal - but that is not an overnight, big bang thing -- it is measured, progressive," said Chancellor Rishi Sunak. (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

RISHI SUNAK has authorised a bailout plan to rescue companies that are seen as strategically important, with the Treasury saying it may step in to support crucial businesses on a “last resort” basis after other options run out.

“In exceptional circumstances, where a viable company has exhausted all options and its failure would disproportionately harm the economy, we may consider support on a ‘last resort’ basis,” a spokeswoman from the Treasury said on Sunday (24).

“We are putting in place sensible contingency planning and any such support would be on terms that protect the taxpayer.”

Under the plan, which is named “Project Birch”, the chancellor has raised the Treasury’s capacity to handle bespoke bailouts of “viable” companies which have exhausted all options, including government loan schemes, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The newspaper also said the state could buy stakes in crucial businesses that were facing acute financial problems.

However, it added the Treasury will not initially look at taking equity stakes in companies that are struggling, with the preferred option being extension of loans.

Companies from across sectors — including steel, aviation and aerospace — are among those facing acute problems and the offer of the Treasury will apply across all sectors of the economy.