Leading north-east businessman Alasdair Locke has stepped down as executive chairman of Aberdeen-based Abbot Group.
His departure is believed to have followed a difference of opinion with the new owners on future strategy.
Mr Locke founded the oil and gas service company in 1992 and collected nearly £120million from a deal announced in December 2007 to take it private. Abbot announced his departure yesterday and said it had been agreed by mutual consent with its primary shareholders, First Reserve and Pamplona.
US private-equity firm First Reserve led the acquisition of the group – whose operations include drilling contractor KCA Deutag – for £906million.
Mr Locke, 56, who owns Glenrinnes Farms, near Dufftown, told the Press and Journal yesterday: “It’s a good time to go.
“It’s a great company and there are some really good people there in their 40s and it’s their time to have a chance at running the business. I look forward to seeing Abbot continue to prosper in the future.”
An industry source thought Mr Locke’s departure was brought about by a difference of opinion over strategy, saying: “I don’t think that the level of growth has panned out to the degree that Alasdair expected.”
Father-of-five Mr Locke has no plans to put his feet up, however. He said: “I have got plenty of other interests, such as developing Dundee waterfront, and also have an insurance business.”
Abbot chief executive Holger Temmen said: “We would like to thank Alasdair for the role he has played in growing Abbot Group into a world-class company.
“He has been a visible, supportive and, at times, a colourful leader, and he has had a positive impact on the ethos of our company and the core values we work to.”
The firm said there was no plan to replace Mr Locke as executive chairman.
Abbot is one of the largest international land-drilling contractors, the biggest offshore-platform drilling contractor in the North Sea and an international operator of mobile offshore rigs. It is also a leader in rig design and construction and employs about 8,000 people, including more than 1,000 in the UK. The firm was floated on the stock market in 1995.