China and chemicals aid WoodMac growth

Stephen Halliday spoke of high degree of staff satisfaction. Picture: Jon Savage

Stephen Halliday spoke of high degree of staff satisfaction. Picture: Jon Savage

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Strong growth in China and expansion into the chemicals market has helped drive up profits and income at Edinburgh-based energy research group Wood Mackenzie.

A rise of more than 20 per cent in both revenue and profit before interest comes just a year after the firm underwent a financial restructuring.

Wood Mackenzie counts all the major energy, mining and metals companies among its 800-plus clients and has recently developed a team looking at the chemicals sector as a response to client demand. Geographically, the firm has broadened its presence with offices in the so-called Bric nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the sub-Sahara.

The increased activity has enabled the company to add to headcount by 115 since 2011 taking the current total to 849, of whom 270 are based in Scotland.

A restructuring of the group’s ownership was completed in July last year, with San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman taking a 63 per cent stake.

Charterhouse Capital Partners retained a 13 per cent share, with the remaining 24 per cent held by Wood Mackenzie management and staff.

Chief executive Stephen Halliday said: “Driven by client demand, we’re continuing to invest heavily in important markets, including a growing presence in China, which has an enormous appetite for energy. Our team there has more than doubled in the past year to 35 members of staff, with further hires planned.

“We have also launched our in-house chemical service due to widespread client demand, as clients want access to the same, world-class information on the chemical market that they get from us in other disciplines.

“It has been an excellent year, despite the challenging economic environment and continued global uncertainty. The vast majority of our clients regard our research as a ‘must-have’, particularly during these volatile economic times. The energy, mining and metals industries are continuing to attract substantial amounts of capital, and this has led to sustained, strong growth in demand for high-quality analysis and insight.

“It’s a trend we expect to continue.

“Hellman & Friedman has invested heavily in the business. You only have to look at how it has grown strongly in the past year – people, revenue, the new petrochemical service and our expansion into China – to see the clear evidence of this.”

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) for the year to 31 December were up 22 per cent from £70.9 million to £86.5m. Revenue was up 21 per cent from £158.3m to £190.8m.

Halliday said: “Employee engagement is a key measure of the health of any company, and I’m particularly pleased that our annual staff survey showed more than 85 per cent of our staff to be satisfied with their job role and committed to the business.

“We have made a strong start to 2013, and the large number of research products we’ve launched in the last 12 months will make an ongoing contribution to revenue and profit growth this year.”

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