Alex Salmond says he's confident that Ferguson Shipbuilder has a sustainable future under new owners.

The First Minister met staff at the shipyard, which went into receivership last week, in Port Glasgow today.

Following his visit to the yard, Salmond tweeted: "Four bids have been received for the stricken Ferguson shipyard, administrators have revealed."

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His comments come as administrators revealed that four bids have been received for the stricken shipyard.

Interested buyers had until 5pm yesterday to make an offer for the Port Glasgow firm - the last commercial shipbuilder on the River Clyde.

The business, which dates back to 1902, went into administration at the end of last week with the loss of 70 jobs following ''significant cashflow pressure'' in recent months.

Joint administrators Blair Nimmo and Tony Friar of KPMG say they cannot reveal the identities of the four bidding parties but two have made public their interest.

Jim McColl, founder and chairman of Clyde Blowers, told The Herald he had tabled a bid for the business while the owners of McGill's Buses, Sandy and James Easdale, have also declared their interest.

Administrators say they will evaluate the four bids and hope to select a preferred bidder early next week.

Mr Nimmo, head of restructuring for KPMG in Scotland, said: "The level of interest and support shown for the future of Ferguson Shipbuilders provides us with the confidence that a sale could be achieved which will hopefully lead to work restarting in Port Glasgow in the short-term.

"We would like to thank employees and bidders for their patience while we continue the important task of assessing the received bids."

First Minister Alex Salmond visited the shipyard to speak to employees this morning.

Mr Salmond listened to the concerns of shop stewards and staff during an hour-long meeting.

The First Minister said: "I have great hopes that the work undertaken in this century-old yard will continue under new ownership and securing this remains an absolute and immediate priority of the Scottish Government.

"I am confident there will be work for a new owner of Ferguson's to compete for and they will have the vision and commitment to invest in the shipyard and its workforce.

"The Scottish Government will work closely with any new owner to support them in building a sustainable business and I know that what will significantly influence the future of this workplace will be the skill, resilience and dedication of the workforce.

"This has been outstanding throughout and is an indication to any new owner that there is a desire for this business to continue on this site for years to come.

"I was reassured this week by the fact the administrator made it quite clear that they were moving quickly to find a buyer for the yard and, therefore, better ensure the chance that shipbuilding will be restored to Ferguson's.

"There is no doubt these will be anxious days while we await the outcome of the bids, but there is also no doubt that the resolve of these skilled shipyard workers themselves will be crucial in a satisfactory outcome."

Jim Moohan, senior organiser at the GMB union, said workers had been boosted by Mr Salmond's visit, adding: "We hope that one or more of the bidders turn out to be serious."

A spokesman for the Easdales said they felt Mr McColl would be best-placed to take over the Ferguson yard.

The spokesman said: "The Easdale brothers are delighted that a businessman with Jim McColl's engineering background is keen to take over the yard.

"Sandy spoke to Jim at length this morning and his plans for hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds in investment are exactly what Inverclyde needs.

"We are informed that our bid is competitive and has reached the shortlist, but we feel that Jim McColl is better equipped to take the yard forward.

"We said all along that we would step aside if somebody with an engineering pedigree and access to markets wanted to get involved.

"Our only interest has been to save the yard and as many jobs as possible. As local businessmen the Easdales have a strong interest in seeing a thriving Inverclyde economy."