VARIOUS opinions were at play within Technip’s boardroom and among senior management. At the end of the day, what was best for the Perry Slingsby business determined the outcome.
“We put the buyout idea forward and Technip agreed to check out other investment opportunities. They helped find a backer. It was mostly done on their terms. Technip engaged Simmons, who had sold Well-Ops to Helix. The only concession made to me and my team was that they agreed they would not sell to a trade player.
“I specifically agreed to support the way they wanted to do this on the basis that we only spoke to private equity. I had regarded P/E as the right environment for us in that P/E invests for growth and we wanted a growth story.
“So we ran a process for the best part of nine months through ’06 … these things are never short. We had to have a story to present and, come ’07, things fell into place quite quickly and enabled us to move fairly fast.
“The auction process progressed, we met about a dozen venture capital/private equity groups and SCF were one of the early ones that we met. We very quickly gelled. There was one other party, but fortunately SCF came in with the best offer. Technip was happy and so were we.”
The deal with Houston-headquartered SCF was concluded in February, 2007. In parallel to that process, Anderson and his team signed heads of agreement with Sub-Atlantic the same week that the Perry Slingsby buyout was achieved.
Why so fast? Quite simply, it was because, as part of mapping out the firm’s business plan, Anderson had identified a number of target companies that, if acquired, would dovetail neatly with Perry Slingsby and create a more powerful force. The umbrella would be called Triton.
“We had four named acquisition targets and we put these in our presentations for SCF’s due diligence process. They were Sub-Atlantic, UK Project Support (UKPS) and Subco. There was one we didn’t secure.
“The point is that, through the last quarter of ’06, we had some very specific targets in mind and we were able to secure three out of four in the first five or six months after SCF came in on the buyout.”
The Perry Slingsby leveraged buyout was valued at some $80million, but that wasn’t the limit of the commitment as it also ensured that Triton was equipped with a war chest to finance acquisitions.
Anderson: “The general principle is that, whatever they spend on a platform, they have at least that amount of equity again to invest. We’ve already done that and gone a little beyond it.”
In short order, the Anderson team has acquired:
Perry Slingsby Systems – UK and US.
Sub-Atlantic – Aberdeen.
UKPS – Lowestoft.
Subco – Lowestoft.
Cynergetix – Singapore.
Geoscience Earth & Marine Services (GEMS) – Houston.
Dynamic Positioning Services (DPS) – Aberdeen.
“Why have we moved so fast? One thing I have learned is that you don’t get any marks for sitting back and waiting to be told to get on with it. You have to be proactive.
“Other than DPS, we’ve not done any of the acquisitions through an auction. What we look for, clearly, is companies that fit, that can add value, but are generally entrepreneurial in spirit and want to stay that way, and where founder/managers are looking for the right environment in which to do it.”