MORE than 250 jobs were yesterday saved at Harwell energy and environmental consultancy AEA Technology after it was bought out of administration.

The firm underwent a “pre-pack” administration with multi-industry consultancy Ricardo paying £18m for the business which collapsed because of a £450m black hole in its pension fund.

A total of 258 jobs were saved as a result of the move with Ricardo bosses saying there were no plans to uproot the business, now known as Ricardo-AEA, from its Harwell base. Two people were made redundant.

Robert Bell, managing director of Ricardo-AEA, said: “The transaction both secures the future for AEA Europe and provides a platform for its continued success and growth as a part of the global Ricardo organisation.”

Administrator Will Wright of financial restructuring firm KPMG, said: “Unable to sustain its pension liability, the company faced a funding crisis which necessitated the appointment of administrators.

“The company’s directors undertook comprehensive marketing of the operating businesses and there was a huge amount of interest with over 100 interested parties making contact.

“We are pleased that we have been able to secure new owners.”

Ricardo did not take over the running of the company pension scheme which administrators said had now been passed on to the Government’s Pension Protection Fund.