A PREFERRED bidder has been selected in the process to save an a historic Aberdeen paper mill which employs hundreds of people.

It was announced earlier this year that the future for nearly 500 workers at the at the Arjowiggins Stoneywood plant was plunged into doubt in January after its parent company failed to sell it.

Boss of the in-administration Arjowiggins Fine Papers Limited, which operates the mill met Scottish Government minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn, and Unite representatives, to discuss what steps could be taken to support the business and workers.

Now a preferred bidder has been selected and a proposed deal is for the sale of the assets of the business as a going concern and the retention of all staff.

READ MORE: Save historic Stoneywood paper mill, ministers told 

A spokesman for the administrators FRP Advisory said: "The joint administrators have selected a preferred bidder for Arjowiggins Fine Papers Limited operations at Stoneywood in Aberdeen and in Basingstoke, and Arjowiggins Chartham Limited in Chartham, Kent.

"The proposed deal is for the sale of the assets of the business as a going-concern, and the retention of all remaining staff, who currently number Stoneywood (482), Basingstoke (28) and Chartham (86).

"Subject to the satisfactory conclusion of due diligence, it is hoped that the deal will conclude around the middle of April."

A small number of redundancies have been made since January, with Stoneywood mill reducing by seven positions to 482 staff, Basingstoke losing one role to 28, and Chartham shedding four positions at 86 staff.

Stoneywood Mill has been making fine papers since 1770.

Earlier this month it emerged there were three potential bidders interested in one or more of the businesses.

Pulp and paper investor Terje Haglund had previously expressed an interest in the Stoneywood and Chartham sites, and is also engaged in trying to put a deal together for Arjo’s French operations.

Meanwhile staff at the paper manufacturer’s French plants continue to await a decision on the sale of the business, as a court delayed its decision once again.

The Commercial Court of Nanterre was originally set to rule on the offer by Swedish wood and paper group Lessebo to buy the sites in Bessé-sur-Braye, Bourray and Château-Thierry on March 20, before delaying to yesterday (26 March).

In a statement from Bessé-sur-Braye mill director Jean-Christophe Mailhan said it was indicated that the court had once again delayed its decision to Friday.