HUNDREDS of workers at troubled engineering group Kvaerner are expected to learn their fate this morning.

The Anglo-Norwegian oil and gas company is expected to release a statement this morning on the outcome of an extraordinary general meeting to vote on a rescue plan to raise cash and save the business.

Kvaerner employs about 35,000 staff worldwide, including 1,500 workers on Teesside.

If approved, the proposals, from Kvaerner's biggest shareholder, Aker Martime, would see the issue of more shares in the company along with the merger of Kvaerner's operations with the oil and gas business of Aker.

Speaking last night, Kvaerner spokesman Paul Emberley said: "We expect to release a statement before 9am tomorrow on the result of the discussions.

"We don't anticipate any problems with the proposals, and we expect the merger to be completed by March, ensuring the future of Kvaerner's operations," he said.

Kvaerner has staggered from crisis to crisis in recent weeks, seeking long-term financing solutions to keep its operations running, despite mounting debts.

Russian oil company Yukos, Kvaerner's second-largest shareholder, has already given its backing to the proposals after withdrawing its own rescue plan when Aker rejected it to pursue its own scheme.

Kvaerner sold its research and development business to the Russian oil firm in October, for £66m, as it battled to stay afloat.

If successful, the Aker rescue package will bring to an end months of worry for employees.

The main elements of the Aker proposals being voted on include:

l A merger of Aker Maritime and Kvaerner Oil and Gas

l A directed equity issue of at least £162m

l A rights issue for Kvaerner shareholders of up to £122m

l Kvaerner's financial freedom would be further strengthened by deferral of debt repayments of about £30m for ten years.