Shareholder agreements - Scottish Government and private sector companies: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested


Please provide a copy of all shareholder agreements entered into by the Scottish Government with private sector companies during the period 1 January 2016 to 15 January 2019.




I can now provide our response to your original request. The Scottish Government has two shareholder agreements with private sector companies relevant to your request:

1. Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited – this was disclosed to you on 20th February 2019, following a review of the initial response to your query reference FoI/19/00022. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you no longer have this information, then please contact me again and I will send you a further copy.

2. Burntisland Fabrications Limited (the Company)– I now attach a copy of the Shareholders Agreement between the Scottish Ministers, BIFAB Holdings Limited and the Company. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under sections s.38(1)(b) (personal information) and s.33(1)(b) (commercial interests) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.




An exemption applies
Section 38(1)(b) – personal data of a third party

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, e.g. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

An Exemption applies subject to the public interest test
Section 33(1)(b) – commercial interests

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of Buntisland Fabrications Limited. Disclosing this information would provide commercial competitors with details of the Company’s financial structure that would not otherwise be in the public domain and could be likely, therefore, to give them an advantage as they compete against the Company for contracts.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information about the use of public money as part of open and transparent government. However, there is also a specific public interest in protecting the investment of public money by ensuring that a level playing field in commercial competition is not distorted by disclosure of information which would be adverse to the commercial interests of a company in which public funds have been invested.


About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

Shareholder Agreement


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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