Founder set for windfall as M&C closes £22m private equity buyout

A FIFE-BASED energy consultancy that employs nearly 400 people worldwide was yesterday snapped up in a £22 million deal that will net its founder an eight-figure sum.

McKinnon & Clarke (M&C) – which was bought by private equity outfit Lyceum Capital – said it plans to triple its turnover from 22.7m last year to more than 60m within the next five years through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions.

Chief executive Simon Northrop told The Scotsman that the company had already drawn up a list of targets operating in the UK and European markets and was also looking at further expansion in the Far East and Australia.

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Sandy McKinnon – who founded the company in 1976 with business partner Roy Clarke and moved the headquarters to Dunfermline in the 1990s – and his family owned about 55 per cent of the business, with other shareholders including an employee benefit trust.

Northrop, who will continue to lead M&C following the takeover, said McKinnon will retain a "minority" shareholding in the company and will take on an "ambassadorial role" in Thailand, where he has a second home.

M&C – which has 373 staff spread across 14 countries, including 87 workers in Scotland – will keep its headquarters in Dunfermline and will use the McKinnon & Clarke brand, although Northrop said it may use other brands in other markets.

Northorp said: "Our list of takeover targets is extensive in terms of country coverage but also in services being offered. We want to extend our existing offerings in energy management, procurement and environmental services."

He added: "I think our 20 per cent year on year growth over the past three years has demonstrated what we can do. With private equity backing, the shackles have been taken off.

"Now the market is ripe for us because volatility of energy prices and long-term price rises are adding to the appetite for outside consultancy services."

Under the deal, Daniel Adler and David Harland from Lyceum will join the M&C board, with corporate financier Bill McCall being appointed chairman and Gerry Higgins taking over as executive vice-chairman.

Lyceum said Higgins – who had previously sold a multi-national testing consultancy to private equity buyers for 425m – would tutor M&C's management.

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Adler said: "We'll be providing funding, operational input and strategic guidance to ensure M&C reaches its full potential.

"We'll be working in partnership with management to develop M&C into a robust and sustainable business, with strong long-term growth prospects."