SeaEnergy collapses but 33 jobs saved in R2S deal

Offshore services group SeaEnergy has called in administrators after succumbing to cashflow problems sparked by the North Sea downturn.

SeaEnergy's R2S arm has been sold to James Fisher, saving 33 jobs. Picture: Contributed

However, more than 30 jobs have been saved after the Aberdeen-based company’s Return to Scene (R2S) division, which helps oil and gas firms plan maintenance activities on offshore installations, was sold to engineer and shipping firm James Fisher in a £2 million deal.

Shares in Aim-quoted SeaEnergy were suspended in April as it warned it was close to running out of cash, and its directors last night appointed Blair Nimmo, Geoff Jacobs and Tony Friar of KPMG as joint administrators.

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KPMG said the company began to suffer cashflow challenges late last year as the downturn in the energy sector saw many projects cancelled by customers, and trading conditions “began to deteriorate even further” at the beginning of 2016.

SeaEnergy last month selected an unnamed preferred bidder for R2S and said it had received a payment to keep it afloat for a couple of weeks. That buyer has now been revealed as Cumbria-based James Fisher, which has paid £1.9m for the business, with a further £100,000 due if R2S can win contracts before the end of the year.

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James Fisher chief executive Nick Henry said: “We are aware of the value R2S has delivered to its clients, in oil and gas sector and police and security markets, and intend to build on our combined strengths to benefit from the significant opportunities this acquisition will present.”

All 33 R2S staff – all but one of whom are based in Aberdeen – have transferred to the new owner as part of the deal and Bob Donnelly, previously business development director at SeaEnergy, said: “This is an exciting time for our team. The uninterrupted provision of services to our clients is of key importance and, as part of James Fisher, we’ll continue to innovate and deliver efficiencies for our clients.”

R2S made an operating profit of £2.2m on sales of £4.7m in 2014, but racked up a loss of £500,000 last year.

KPMG’s Nimmo said: “We are pleased to have concluded the sale of R2S to James Fisher, which will safeguard the majority of jobs within the group, maintain customer service, and provide the best outcome for SeaEnergy’s creditors. Based on the information available at present, it is unlikely there will be any recovery for the shareholders.

“We are now focused on realising the remaining assets and investments held by SeaEnergy, and would encourage any party with an interest in acquiring all, or parts, of these investments to make contact with us as soon as possible.”

Of the remaining seven SeaEnergy employees, three have been made redundant while four have been retained to help the administrators.

WH Ireland has also resigned as SeaEnergy’s nominated adviser (nomad) and broker with immediate effect. If the firm fails to appoint a replacement nomad within a month, the admission of its shares to Aim will be cancelled.