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ThinCats footed £13.5m to help Cheyne buy Ace Winches back from Balmoral

© Supplied by Michal WachucikThinCats Ace Winches
Alfie Cheyne

Alternative lender ThinCats has revealed its £13.5 million backing for north-east businessmen Alfie Cheyne buying back the company he founded, Ace Winches, from Balmoral Group.

ThinCats, which funds small and medium-sized enterprises with loans from £1 million up to £15m, said its financial package for Mr Cheyne and his wife, Valerie, helped them to repurchase the Ace Winches shares.

It will also support the deck machinery specialist as it “continues to lead industry standards for quality and reliability,” ThinCats added.

Hutcheon Mearns advised on the deal, with Bridge & York Capital Partners putting together the initial funding proposition and introducing the Cheynes to ThinCats.

Addleshaws provided legal support to ThinCats, while CMS acted for Mr and Mrs Cheyne.

‘Exciting plans’

ThinCats senior director Gary Nutley said: “It’s fantastic to support such a prominent operator and respected brand in the sector, continuing to build its exposure and diversify its offering.

“With Alfie’s vision and passion for the business, and their experienced team and engineering expertise, I am sure we will see Ace continue to lead the industry.”

Mr Cheyne, chief executive, Ace, said: “We have lots of exciting plans for the future and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of a changing market.

“We are delighted to have found such a supportive partner in ThinCats and their funding will ensure we achieve our objectives of diversification and geographical expansion.”

Bridge & York Capital Partners chief executive John Blanchflower said it was a “real pleasure” to work with the Cheyne’s in “constructing the funding proposition and finding the right funding partner for their specific needs”.

Mr Blanchflower added: “Having identified ThinCats as that partner, we worked closely with all parties through the credit and execution process to assist the smooth delivery of the transaction.”

Ace, now based at Towie Barclay Works, near Turriff, was founded by Mr Cheyne in 1992 to support the fishing industry with basic winches and other equipment.

Today, it designs, manufactures and hires out a wide range of hydraulic winches and marine deck machinery for offshore, marine, renewable-energy and fishing markets worldwide.

Takeover led to sour relationship

Aberdeen-based engineering group Balmoral sold Ace back to Mr Cheyne last autumn after the relationship between the two businesses soured.

Balmoral had built a majority 70% stake in Ace,  from 2017 to 2019, but the takeover proved acrimonious and led to a court case.

The Cheyne family exercised an option, in line with its original agreement, allowing it to buy Ace back.

ThinCats is the trading name of a group of companies owned by London-headquartered ESF Capital.

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