ServiCom assets go to Iowa businessman for $1.5 million in court auction

FILE - ServiCom's Sydney operation first opened under different ownership nearly 20 years ago. Gurinder Osan/AP Photo

The assets of a shuttered Cape Breton call centre have been awarded to an Iowa-based businessman for $1.5-million, Nova Scotia’s business minister confirmed late Tuesday.

Geoff MacLellan said Anthony Marlowe of Marlowe Companies Inc. (MCI) outbid two other interested buyers for the assets of ServiCom during an auction that was part of bankruptcy court proceedings in New Haven, Conn.

MacLellan said the judge is expected to finalize the deal, which includes four of ServiCom’s contracts, on Wednesday.

“At this point, there is still a court process that has to unfold,” said MacLellan. “We anticipate it will be finalized (Wednesday), but at this point it looks like MCI will be the group that will carry on in Sydney.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia offers special government support to ServiCom employees who lost their jobs

The minister said the outcome amounts to a “good day” for the nearly 700 employees who lost their jobs nearly two weeks ago, although details on how soon the operation can get back in business remains unclear.

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MacLellan said Dec. 21 has been set as a deadline to finalize the deal.

“I can say with absolute certainty Anthony (Marlowe) is committed to getting this open and as soon as possible,” he said. “There’s no time for anything to get drawn out here. I certainly feel confident that Anthony understands the critical nature of this.”

The shutdown followed a bankruptcy protection filing by ServiCom’s U.S. parent, weeks of pay delays and promises of bonuses and pay incentives for workers who stayed.

ServiCom’s Sydney operation first opened under different ownership nearly 20 years ago.

READ MORE: Staff briefed on possible ServiCom buyer

The call centre provided customer support to major firms, such as OnStar Corp., a subsidiary of General Motors, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, AT&T Inc. and Allstate Insurance company.

Following the closure, the provincial Labour Department rolled out a list of programs to help the workers who lost their jobs.

On Tuesday, MacLellan said the province’s short-term measures would remain in place.

Former employees are eligible for a six-week training program aimed at building skills while they search for work. The Employment Skills and Job Search Program covers areas such as networking, conflict resolution, first aid, computer and communication skills, and stress management.

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Workers can also apply for as much as $200 through a rebate program to help them cover their home heating costs.

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