Industrials Sector Comment – August 2013


UK industrial assets continue to attract foreign investment which is demonstrative of the high quality engineering and manufacturing businesses in the UK.

UK industrial assets continue to attract foreign investment which is demonstrative of the high quality engineering and manufacturing businesses in the UK. As markets become increasingly global and competitive and large players seek to expand their market share, it is not surprising that the UK is often top of the list when looking to acquire established industrial operations, with highly skilled workforces, world-class engineering capabilities and global routes to market.

Following the sale of its rail business last November, global technology company Invensys has just agreed a £3.4bn takeover by France’s Schneider Electric. The acquisition of Invensys, which develops software systems and controls for refineries, chemical and nuclear plants, is highly strategic for Schneider and one which will boost the company’s position as a global leader in energy management solutions enabling them to offer a complete process solution. For Invensys, the new ownership will provide a solid base for R&D investment, and will create new business opportunities around the world. With significant cost savings through enhanced efficiencies as well as revenue synergies across global customer bases, it is expected that Schneider will have the potential to compete with the top players such as Siemens and Mitsubishi.

Australian listed testing business ALS recently acquired the UK-based Reservoir Group for £351m. Reservoir is a global provider of specialist oil and gas services and equipment that assists with the evaluation, development and optimization of oil and gas discoveries. The acquisition will considerably broaden ALS’ capabilities in upstream oil and gas and will strongly complement their existing laboratory testing capabilities. Reservoir, which went through a private-equity backed management buyout in 2007, has been highly acquisitive in the last six years and as such has grown at an astounding rate. The business is now expected to grow at an even more accelerated rate under its new ownership.

Other groups which are currently attracting interest from foreign players include UK engineering group Kentz Corporation and Fiberweb, a UK manufacturer of industrial and construction metals.


Radius Systems Ltd, a subsidiary of the Russian Polyplastic Group, has acquired Aeon Pipe Systems Ltd, a global manufacturer and supplier of valves to the fire protection, gas, water, and oil exploration and transportation sectors. The acquisition will give Aeon access to a wider geographical market and a broader portfolio of products.

Rotork plc has acquired pneumatic rack and pinion manufacturers GT Attuatori Italia Srl based in Italy, and GT Attuatori Europe GmbH and Max Process GmbH (“GTA”) both based in Germany; and additionally Renfro Associates Inc, a valve adaption and mounting business based in Oklahoma, USA. The acquisitions will enhance the range of products Rotork offers to its customers and enable the company to reach further geographies.

The management team, led by Finance Director David Calle, has acquired Quattro Plant Limited, a leading supplier of operated road rail plant in the UK and one of the largest operators of environmental machines. David Calle will now assume the role of CEO and previous owner John Murphy will retain a significant stake in the business and will take over as Executive Chairman.

Costain Group plc has acquired EPC Offshore Ltd, a specialist oil and gas project management services company, for an initial consideration of £9.6m / USD 14.5m (plus £1m for excess cash). The newly formed Costain Upstream, which will also combine the capabilities of ClerkMaxwell, will deliver engineering, capital projects and asset support services across: Field Development, Subsea Facilities, Topside Facilities, and Floating Systems.

Howden Group Ltd is to acquire CKD Kompresory a.s., a Czech producer of compressors, from the Czech engineering group CKD. CKD Kompresory employs around 340 staff with an annual turnover of EUR 77.5m.

John Swire & Sons Ltd has acquired Argent Energy Group Limited, a biodiesel production company which make clean, green road fuel by recycling wastes and residues from other industries. The new ownership will allow Argent Energy to consider replicating its successful business in other parts of the world.

EnerMech Ltd has acquired Vicon Services Pty Ltd, an Australia-based engineering business focused on the energy sector, and Total Reclaim Systems Limited, a UK-based oilfield services company. The acquisitions will extend EnerMech’s geographical reach and service offering.

Mosaic Private Equity Ltd, RooGreen Ventures LLP and Enterprise Ventures Limited have each made a significant investment in Woodall Nicholson Group Ltd, a UK long-established coach-building business which manufactures funeral vehicles, buses and specialist vehicles for the emergency services. Geoff Hudson, who is currently Group Sales Director, will become Managing Director, while his two colleagues and co-shareholders will retire from the business.

Interserve plc has acquired Topaz Oil and Gas Ltd and its subsidiaries, which provide oilfield maintenance, fabrication and construction services in the Middle East. The acquisition further extends Interserve’s operational footprint in the Middle East oil and gas services market.

Aker Solutions ASA has acquired International Design Engineering and Services Ltd, a UK specialist engineering company that develops software and technology to improve the quality and accuracy of integrity and life time analysis for oil and gas assets. The acquisition will boost Aker Solutions’ asset integrity management services.

ALS Ltd has agreed to acquire Reservoir Group Ltd, a global provider of specialist oil and gas services and equipment that assists with the evaluation, development and optimisation of oil and gas discoveries for £351m (US$ 533m). The acquisition is consistent with ALS’s strategy to build an integrated global oil and gas solution and will significantly increase the company’s exposure to attractive, high growth oil and gas end-markets.

Cobham plc has acquired the 50% it did not already own in helicopter services companies FB Heliservices Ltd, FB Leasing Ltd and FBS Ltd (‘FBH’) from its long standing joint-venture partner, Bristow Helicopters Ltd. The acquisition will enable Cobham to build on existing capabilities and offer customers the convenience of a transport solution that includes a combination of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

Sagentia Group plc has acquired OTM Consulting Ltd, an international technology management consultancy specializing in the oil, gas and alternative energy sectors. The acquisition is expected to enable Sagentia to accelerate its development in this identified growth market.

Acorn Growth Companies and The Edgewater Funds have partnered to acquired Tods Aerospace & Defence Ltd, a specialist in the engineering, design and manufacture of advanced materials technology for aerospace and naval acoustic structure. The acquisition will further complement AGC’s current capabilities and strengthen and diversify their existing customer base.

Acteon Group Limited has acquired J2 Engineering Services Ltd, a company engaged in the rental, maintenance and repair of ROV manipulator arms and associated tooling and equipment. J2 Engineering’s service offering runs along very similar lines to that of Acteon company Seatronics and bringing these two companies together will enhance their combined ability to add value to customers’ operations.

Clarke Energy Ltd has acquired Orient Power Systems (Pvt) Ltd’s Bangladesh operations, a business that provides power generation and industrial services and solutions. The acquisition will ensure that Clarke Energy’s long standing relationship with manufacturer GE Jenbacher has been extended, with the company appointed as distributor and service provider for Jenbacher gas engines in Bangladesh.

Carlyle Group LP has acquired Marelli Overseas Ltd, a UK low-, medium-, and high-voltage synchronous and asynchronous generators and electric motors manufacturer, designer, and wholesaler, from Melrose Industries plc. The sale will enable Melrose to pay existing liabilities and will enable Marelli to expand under Carlyle’s ownership.

3D Systems Corporation has acquired CRDM Ltd, a UK provider of rapid prototyping and rapid tooling services for a variety of automotive, aerospace, medical device and motorsports applications. The acquisition will extend 3D’s offerings and its footprint in the UK.