ITS Group continued its international expansion with its first acquisition in Colombia in South America.
The Aberdeen firm also expressed confidence about future growth prospects, despite its 2009 results being hit by the global recession.
ITS, a provider of equipment and services to the oil and gas industry, said it had bought specific business and assets from a Colombian oilfield service company for an undisclosed sum.
The operation provides tubular and downhole-tool rental services, tubular and casing running services and inspection services.
ITS said the equipment, plus two sites and 29 employees, would help to accelerate its investment plans for Colombia and the wider region.
Chief executive Jeff Corray said: “The Colombian acquisition is a good example of our commitment to growth and fits nicely with our investment strategy for central and south America, ensuring we have equipment and service capability where our customers want it and . . . delivered with local expertise.”
ITS now has more than 1,250 employees at 29 operational bases in 18 countries.
The group’s results for 2009 showed turnover slid by 11% to £80.3million, as weaker market conditions affected demand for its equipment and services.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation and before non-recurring items declined by 10% to £26.8million but ITS said several strategic developments had put it in a strong position to capitalise on a market upturn.
The group invested £33.3million on new equipment and infrastructure in 2009. Two bases were added in Mexico while sites were opened in Peru and Kurdistan. Investment has continued this year with manufacturing capabilities increased in India – through the opening of a purpose-built site – and in America.
ITS said that, to support continued investment, it completed two significant balance-sheet developments in 2009. Increased borrowings were secured through a joint arrangement with Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank, which was soon followed by a growth capital investment from private-equity firm Lime Rock Partners in exchange for a minority stake in the business.
The group said this had given it capital to support and continue its strategy to grow. Mr Corray added: “Without doubt 2009 was a challenging year for the oil and gas industry. While the tough economic conditions impacted our trading performance, we have worked tremendously hard and continue to make strategic decisions entirely focused on positioning the company for the recovery.
“Whether this is through the recruitment of key personnel to bring more focus and value to relationships with our customers, or the continued growth of our global infrastructure, we are developing a platform that will allow us to become a truly global oilfield service company.”