Geoscience firms united by Business Growth Fund

Lawrence Bourke. Picture: Newsline
Lawrence Bourke. Picture: Newsline
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TWO geoscience companies, one based in Aberdeen, the other in the United States, are to merge in a deal that is being backed with £3.8 million of investment from the Business Growth Fund.

Both Task Geoscience and Houston-based Fronterra Integrated Geosciences are focused on the oil and gas sector.

The merged business, called Task-Fronterra Group, will rank as one of the world’s largest geoscience companies specialising in the use of “borehole imaging” – technology that allows oil explorers to gain a detailed analysis of the faults and fractures that can surround a well.

As well as providing growth capital investment, BGF will take a minority stake in the new business.

It marks the latest Scottish deal for the £2.5 billion investment vehicle, which was set up in 2011 by Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered.

BGF, which invests between £2m and £10m per business in return for a minority equity stake and a seat on the board, is managed autonomously with an independent management team.

Other deals north of the Border to date include AFG Media, the firm responsible for the Morphsuit costumes, luxury toiletries provider Arran Aromatics and opticians chain Duncan and Todd.

Mike Sibson, BGF’s investment director, who has joined the board of Task-Fronterra Group, said: “Both Task Geoscience and Fronterra Integrated Geosciences have excellent reputations in the industry, and this is a really exciting opportunity to back a powerful combination. The people in both businesses are market leading in their fields.”

Task-Fronterra will be run by the founder and chief executive of Task, Lawrence Bourke, pictured below, who will be supported by a senior management team from across both businesses.

In addition, two senior non-executives, Will Davie and John Forrest, are joining the board. Davie has more than 30 years’ of experience in the oil and gas industry including geosciences, holding a number of senior management positions at industry heavyweight Schlumberger.

Forrest was previously managing director of Talisman’s North Sea business, before which he held several senior posts at Mobil.

Bourke said: “Task has driven innovation in borehole image analysis and in software tools for interpretation, while Fronterra is the leading presence in analysing shale gas well bores.

“The combined business will offer more opportunities for our people as well as providing a broader service to our clients and I’m excited about working to bring together two highly talented workforces and creating new jobs in the future as the company grows.”

The two firms were founded within two years of each other – Task Geoscience in 2001 and Fronterra in 2003. Task-Fronterra 
has a global footprint, with ten offices.