Maven backs second North Sea ship deal for Fletcher

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MAVEN Capital Partners has invested a further £5.5 million in rapidly-expanding North Sea supply specialist Fletcher Shipping of Aberdeen.

Fletcher – which has seen its cargo vessels pressed into passenger transport duties in the wake of last week’s Super Puma crash off Shetland – will use the money to help fund the purchase of two further platform support vessels (PSVs).

The acquisition of FS Pisces and FS Sirius from United States-based Gulfmark will take Fletcher’s PSV fleet to a total of five.

PSVs are normally used to transport food, equipment and similar supplies to offshore locations. Though not designed to accommodate passengers, this past week’s grounding of Super Puma flights has meant that all tonnage in the North Sea is operating at full capacity.

Even without the current logistics crisis, Fletcher’s services have been in high demand amid booming activity in the offshore sector. The last ship it bought, the FS Taurus, has been in continuous service since it was acquired in October.

Maven supported the Taurus deal with £4m from the Scottish Loan Fund, a Scottish Government-sponsored scheme to assist small and medium-sized businesses with growth potential. The remainder of that £8m funding round was supplied by Royal Bank of Scotland.

In this latest deal, Fletcher took up a clause in that original agreement to draw down a further £1m from the Scottish Loan Fund. That was accompanied by an additional £4.5m from Maven Client Funds, which allows high net worth individuals to invest in private equity transactions on a deal-by-deal basis.

Keith Fletcher, managing director of Fletcher Shipping, said the FS Pisces and Sirius would immediately go into service once the deal is complete. All of the firm’s existing PSVs are chartered on long-term contracts with major industry operators.

“We are delighted to be in the position of adding a fourth and fifth vessel to our expanding fleet,” he said.

“The investment from Maven Client Funds has allowed us to pursue our growth strategy and realise the potential that remains in the North Sea for vessels of this size and capability.”

Jock Gardiner, partner at Maven, said Fletcher Shipping was making the most of the opportunities available in the North Sea. “They have firmly established themselves in the market, providing an excellent service to their existing customer base and the resultant demand to charter their high-quality PSVs has led to them being constantly in service,” Gardiner said.

“The business continues to be ambitious and the purchase of the two new vessels will help to significantly increase capacity.”

Fletcher Shipping was founded in 2007 by its eponymous managing director, who previously set up and ran SBS Marine until it was sold to Viking Supply Ships in 2006. Fletcher currently employs about 100 people.