WoodMac’s boost as it creates 100 jobs after profits soar

Wood Mackenzie, the Edinburgh-based research consultancy that changed hands in a £1.1 billion deal this summer, has unveiled plans to create more than 100 jobs after delivering a 36 per cent rise in full-year profits.

The group, which is now majority owned by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman (H&F), expects to benefit from the growing trend for companies to outsource their research.

Finance director Brian Aird said: “The business has made a very good start to 2012 and we are confident that this pace will be maintained in the year ahead, despite the environment we operate in still experiencing challenging conditions.

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“The large number of research products that we have launched over the last 12 months will make a strong contribution to revenue, profit and operating cashflow in 2012.”

WoodMac – which provides analysis on the energy, metals and mining industries for more than 800 clients around the world – posted an operating profit of £65.9 million for 2011, up from £48.4m the previous year, on revenues 24 per cent higher at £158.3m.

Revenues have grown every year since 1988 and the firm said most of its clients see its research as a “must have”, limiting the extent to which its results are affected by the changing price of commodities such as metals and oil.

The highest-paid director received total payments of £336,250 for the year, up from £317,500 previously.

Staff numbers grew by 62 to 734, and many of those are shareholders in the firm, which began life as a stockbroker in Edinburgh in the 1840s.

Chief executive Stephen Halliday, who joined as an analyst in 1989, said the group’s range of services and global presence means it is “less heavily exposed to the risk of economic downturn in a particular market or region”. WoodMac has 21 offices in locations including Brisbane, Houston, Jakarta, Moscow and Tokyo.

Charterhouse Capital Partners – which had paid £553m for a controlling stake in WoodMac in 2009 – sold a 63 per cent holding in the firm to rival H&F in July. Under the deal, 340 members of staff who owned shares in WoodMac shared a £90m windfall, with an average pay-out of around £250,000.

The payments represented 50 per cent of the value of the employees’ shareholding, with the balance to remain invested in the business.

Staff retain a 24 per cent stake in the firm, with Charterhouse keeping a minority stake of 13 per cent.

It is understood that WoodMac’s financial performance in 2012 is showing continuing growth.