THE years 2002-03 had been truly dreadful for a lot of companies, and particularly Perry Slingsby.
The order intake was less than $20million. Revenues had slumped from $70million in 2001 to just over $30million in 2003.
It had, in effect, gone missing within Technip. But Anderson was fighting back and, in 2004, he clawed the order intake back through the $50million mark, and so forth.
In 2007, the gross order intake for Perry Slingsby was more than $150million.
“It had started winning work again; we had started getting some of the basics right, building a plan around controls technology and looking at what other applications we could get involved in. We did things like wellhead control systems for DrillQuip; we did stuff for ExxonMobil’s SIM project … the kind of things that protected us when the ROV/underwater vehicles market was down.”
Anderson told Energy that the unit’s traditional business cycle boiled down to waves of offshore capex-related activity. It was a case of catching a wave, riding it for as long as possible, then hunkering down to weather the ensuing lean period and being ready to catch the next wave as it built.
“I thought that if we could ride this wave … use the good business part of the cycle … we could use that as a platform for building a more sustainable business and so a more sustainable future.
“We started to dream up a plan. What became clear was that quite a lot of what we wanted to do was limited by Technip’s ownership.
“That’s not a criticism; rather it’s the reality of being a very small bit of a very large business.
“We had a very clear role and function within Technip … to build equipment. We could build it internally and for other clients. But we couldn’t get involved in more service-related activities that might potentially conflict with the operating side of our parent.
“We were basically a jobbing shop for the parent.
“So, throughout 2005, we made the case for a very compelling investment and growth story around a balanced product and service model. It wasn’t designed to make Technip say, ‘well now’s the best time to sell’.
“Rather, it was the obvious conclusion that evolved. We were making the case for further investment, we had a very positive business plan going forward. Technip’s capital was going into its boats and bigger infrastructure like Angola and factories.
“We couldn’t compete for that capex, plus there were the various conflicting issues. By the start of 2006 we clearly saw there was an opportunity for Technip to harvest value and for us to find the right backer interested in investing in growth.”
In fact, the due diligence bit never went way. The idea of an employee-led buyout was always on the table, according to Anderson.