Banker joins Motherwell Bridge board

MOTHERWELL Bridge, the venerable Scottish engineering firm, has appointed a Bahrain-based investment banker as its chairman as the engineering group continues to push into the Middle East.

Lloyd Williams, head of private equity at Islamic bank Kuwait Finance House (KFH), is taking over from Hugh Hayes, the recovery specialist who turned the firm around after creditors placed it into a so-called “revolving door” receivership in 2003.

Williams has been a non-executive director at Motherwell Bridge since 2008, when KFH acquired a majority stake in the 101-year-old company.

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His appointment comes as Motherwell Bridge is expanding in the Middle East, with the aim of generating 20 per cent of its turnover from that region by 2015.

“For the last three years I have worked closely with Hugh Hayes and [chief executive] Russell Ward as Motherwell Bridge has begun to capitalise on opportunities in the Middle East,” Williams said.

“I look forward to taking over and leading the company into the next chapter of its long and proud history.”

Earlier this year, the engineering contractor signed a series of partnership agreements in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates to bolster sales of its pressure system equipment, which is used in the onshore and offshore oil and gas industry.

Hayes, who turned 60 this year, said his decision to step back had been planned “for some time”.

He said: “I have been chairman since 2003, and having reached age 60 I’ve decided to step back a little from the front line.

“I have worked with Lloyd since the acquisition and we have developed a close working relationship.”

He added: “I will be continuing as non-executive director working with Lloyd and Russell, and as a shareholder my interest in the company remains strong.”

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Hayes had been executive chairman of Motherwell Bridge until last year, when he announced he would take a step back to chairman.

He took charge of the company in 2003 after a number of creditors, including Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland, put it into a special kind of receivership – similar to a pre-pack administration.

The deal saved hundreds of jobs at the Lanarkshire-based firm, but it proved controversial for pensioners as it spelled the end of the final salary scheme.

In 2006, Hayes and 11 other senior managers took a 26 per cent stake in the group as they and a private equity investor staged a buy-out for a reported £15.5 million.

KFH took over the business in 2008 as part of a refinancing, although the management team is understood to have retained a stake of about 10 per cent.