The joint administrators of the ailing Ferguson shipyard have set a deadline of close of business tomorrow for any interested parties to make an offer.

A closing date of 5pm on Thursday August 21 has been made for any offers for the Port Glasgow business - which was the last commercial shipbuilder on the River Clyde - and its assets.

Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and head of restructuring for KPMG in Scotland, said he was "encouraged" by the interest shown in the business and said he senses a "desire to see its heritage maintained".

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Ferguson Shipbuilders, which dates back to 1902, went into administration at the end of last week following ''significant cashflow pressure'' in recent months.

A total of 70 employees were made redundant immediately.

Talks have been held between the joint administrators and several interested parties which could allow shipbuilding work to start up again.

But the joint administrators have said that if offers are received it could take some time to review these and select a preferred bidder for the yard.

Mr Nimmo said: "We have been encouraged by the level of initial interest in, and support shown for, Ferguson Shipbuilders, and we sense there is a desire to see its heritage maintained.

"By setting an early closing date we hope to establish whether it is possible to facilitate an early sale which may lead to the resumption of shipbuilding and ship repair activity at Port Glasgow in the short term."

Finance Secretary John Swinney told Holyrood yesterday that it was vital that new investors are found in the next few days.

The owners of McGills Buses, Sandy and James Easdale, have already declared their interest in the firm.

A statement from the Easdales said: "We note the exceptionally tight deadline.

"We have our valuation team in the yard today and will be in a position to make a conditional offer tomorrow."