BGF £6m into software specialist Petrotechnics

BGF typically invests between �2m and �10m in individual companies. Picture: PA
BGF typically invests between �2m and �10m in individual companies. Picture: PA
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THE Business Growth Fund (BGF) has unveiled its fifth investment in Scotland by injecting £6 million into a software specialist.

Petrotechnics, based in Aberdeen, is now looking to hire staff as it takes its flagship product to markets around the world.

Launched in May of last year, BGF is a UK government-sponsored initiative aimed at channelling long-term capital into ambitious small and medium-sized businesses. It is backed by five of the big banks and typically invests between £2m and £10m in individual companies.

In Scotland it has so far invested in AFG Media, Aubin, M Squared Lasers and STATS Group and the latest injection of cash brings the total to £30m. The fund aims to invest up to £300m a year in companies across the UK in exchange for equity.

Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered provided £2.5 billion to invest in businesses that turn over between £5m and £50m.

Petrotechnics, which makes software to improve efficiency and safety on offshore installations, was set up in 1990 by chief executive Phil Murray. It has offices in Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the US.

As part of the deal, BGF investment director Mike Sibson will join the board. Murray said Sibson would help take the company “to the next level of growth”.

“We believe there is a big opportunity for customers to significantly improve their operational performance and improve how they manage operational risk,” Murray said. Its key product. Proscient, helps reduce the number and length of unplanned shutdowns, improves the accuracy of equipment plans and helps to instil a “safety culture” within an operation.

Petrotechnics software is used by more than 50,000 people every day in some of the industry’s biggest oil and gas businesses. It is used across 80 per cent of North Sea installations and 40 per cent of those in the Gulf of Mexico, helping to generate annual sales of between £10m and £15m in each of the past five years.

Sibson said Petrotechnics was a “very exciting opportunity” for BGF, as major incidents such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster have increased the focus upon reducing operational risks across the offshore industry.

“The company’s large installed base, the new software product Proscient, and the excellent reputation of Petrotechnics is an exciting combination,” Sibson said.

“The investment is a great fit for BGF. We are also delighted to be backing Phil and the team, who are genuine experts in their field.”

After studying mechanical engineering at Salford, Murray spent ten years working for BP in Alaska and Norway before settling in Aberdeen. He set up Proscient three years after a serious road accident left him unable to continue with his previous job.