The founder and former executive chairman at Aberdeen-based oil and gas service firm Abbot Group said yesterday he would not be stepping in to buy the business, now better known as KCA Deutag.
Alasdair Locke, who launched Abbot in 1992 and collected nearly £120million from a deal announced in December 2007 to take it private, told the Press and Journal he had no intention of acquiring the firm if it went on sale.
He was speaking after KCA Deutag announced a review of “strategic alternatives” aimed at strengthening its capital structure.
The company, which has its headquarters at Altens, in Aberdeen, said the review could potentially lead to the business going on sale.
Alternatively, there could be new long-term capital, with a refinancing or renegotiation of the existing debt.
Mr Locke said he took a keen interest in developments at KCA Deutag, whose operational performance was still very good.
He added: “I don’t think it is about to be sold.
“They are in some pain at the moment, but just need to restructure their finances.
“Funding is key to the firm’s future prospects. The underlying business is doing very well, but there are issues they need to resolve.”
Asked about the likelihood of him investing in a business he estimates to be worth more than £630million, Mr Locke said: “Having sold out and done very well out of it, I am not about to spend around $1billion buying it back. I am confident it is in good hands.”
KCA Deutag said corporate-finance adviser Lexicon Partners and financial service firm Morgan Stanley and Company International had been asked to help with the review.
The firm also said it would give further updates, as appropriate, as the process progressed. Late last year, KCA Deutag said its biggest lenders had agreed to provide extra funding and waived covenant tests until March 31, removing the threat of an imminent breach on its £1.35billion debt pile.
Yesterday’s announcement said the November agreement had provided stability and funding, allowing the company to pursue its business plan as well as talks to resolve its capital structure in the long term.
KCA Deutag made pre-tax profits of £40.73million in 2009, against losses of £3.96million a year earlier.
The group has been owned by Turbo Alpha – a subsidiary of Cayman Islands-registered investment vehicle Turbo Cayman – since a private-equity-backed £906million acquisition in March 2008.
It employs more than 8,000 people, with operations in the North Sea, Caspian region, the Middle East, north and west Africa, Asia-Pacific and Mexico.