OIL rig moorings specialist Viking SeaTech was yesterday snapped up for £150 million by an American industrial conglomerate that was involved in building the Bird’s Nest stadium in China, the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and the Millau viaduct in France.
New York-listed Actuant has unveiled plans to expand Viking’s geographic footprint after buying the Aberdeen-based firm from banking giant HSBC’s private equity arm.
Viking chief executive Bill Bayliss, who was drafted in during September 2011 to restructure the company and put it on a firmer footing for expansion, will remain with the firm. A spokeswoman for Viking said it will be “business as usual”.
Robert Arzbaecher, chairman and chief executive of Actuant, said: “Bill Bayliss, along with his leadership team, have done an outstanding job positioning Viking as a premier subsea services firm, and we look forward to them joining Actuant.”
Bayliss added: “I have no doubts that our new ownership will offer exciting opportunities for our staff and customers in the months and years ahead as we seek to expand our services in the subsea support arena.”
As well as its Aberdeen operations, Viking already has bases in Australia, Indonesia, Norway, Singapore and the United States.
Viking was launched in 1985 as part of Aberdeen-based Balmoral Group.
The firm was bought for £22m in 2006 by Inflexion Private Equity as part of a management buy-out. HSBC then took over the company in 2009 and is thought to have paid £180m.
Last year, Bayliss revealed plans for further international expansion after signing a £73m refinancing agreement with HSBC and Norwegian lender DNB Bank.
Bayliss rebranded the firm from Viking Moorings and was joined at its relaunch by former CBI director general and fellow West Midlands business leader Lord Digby Jones. The pair met in Australia, where Lord Jones was addressing an offshore conference and Bayliss was promoting Viking’s office.
Actuant, which was founded in 1910 and is based in Wisconsin – employs about 6,000 people in more than 30 countries.
Cortland, Hydratight and Walsall – three of the other companies within the group – already have bases in Aberdeen.
The three firms – along with Elliott Manufacturing and Enerpac – also have operations south of the Border.
Enerpac has provided hydraulic equipment for some of the world’s biggest engineering projects, such as lifting sections of the Golden Gate bridge, placing the roof on the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium in Beijing and positioning the Millau Viaduct in Aveyron, France.
In 2009, Enerpac provided a system to lift three massive stages for Irish rock band U2’s global “360-degree” stadium tour, built by Belgium-based Stageco.