Outsourcing firm Interserve is on the verge of administration after investors rejected a rescue deal that would have seen their holdings slashed and lenders seize control.

The stricken company said trading in its shares had been immediately suspended pending administration and a planned sale that will see its various divisions – and 45,000 UK staff – protected.

Interserve had been working on the contingency plan in advance of the vote to prevent a possible repeat of the messy Carillion-style demise in 2018 that left its staff and contracts – including many in the public sector – in limbo.

Over 59% of shareholders rejected the restructuring proposal that would have seen their holdings dive to just 5%.

The board said its next steps were “likely to involve the company making an application for administration and, if the order is granted, the immediate sale of the company’s business and assets to a newly-incorporated company, to be owned by the existing lenders.”

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