New owner for Scots crane firm behind Wembley's famous arch

AN INVERNESS company whose giant cranes helped build Wembley Stadium has changed hands in a deal that values the business at £100 million and is likely to trigger bumper payouts for its founding family.

• Weldex's cranes helped to raise the arch over the new Wembley Stadium in London. Picture: Getty Images

Dougie McGilvray, who set up Weldex in 1979 and grew it into the UK's largest "crawler crane" hire business, will stay on after the secondary buyout.

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McGilvray originally serviced the oil and gas industry but has diversified into infrastructure projects and the renewable energy sector.

His cranes were used to raise the arch at the new Wembley and in the construction of Heathrow airport's terminal 5.

Edinburgh-based Dunedin bought shares from the McGilvray family and acquired most of the stake held by existing private equity investor NVM. The agreement involves Weldex being bought by a new holding company. An "enterprise value" of 100m has been placed on the business, post-deal.

Mark Ligertwood, the Dunedin director who led the transaction, refused to comment on the value of the stake bought from the family.

But he highlighted the growth opportunities for Weldex in the offshore wind-farm market and in the building and decommissioning of power stations, as well as projects such as the 2012 Olympic Games in London, to which Weldex is already supplying cranes.

The firm has six sites in the UK, including large depots in Glasgow and Alfreton, in Derbyshire.

"We have tracked the progress of this business for a considerable time and have been impressed at the way it has continued to grow through the recession by focusing on large, complex infrastructure projects and the offshore wind-power industry," Ligertwood said. "Weldex is the market leader in its field and the accomplishments of Dougie and his family were the key factor in our decision to make the investment."

Dunedin's previous investments north of the Border have included Goals Soccer Centres and Letts Diaries.

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NVM's Northern Venture Trust and its Northern Investment Company received 13.8m in the deal, including 7.4m in cash and 6.4m in loan notes, with 6 per cent interest per year, payable in 2017, or sooner if the business is sold again or floated. The trust and company will each retain a 5 per cent equity stake in the holding company.

NVM director Norman Yarrow, who has sat on the board of Weldex as a non-executive director, said: "Dougie McGilvray had the vision to grow Weldex into one of the biggest crane companies of its kind and I'm delighted with the return this investment has given NVM."