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Company sold

Keiller takes chair for new owner of oil group Asco

The company has operations around the world

Bob Keiller, former CEO of John Wood Group and Scottish Enterprise, will become non-executive chairman of oil services firm Asco Group which has has been acquired by a consortium of investors.

The Aberdeen-based company, owned by DH Private Equity Partners since 2011, has been sold to Zander Topco, representing the interests of several investors, for an undisclosed sum. The deal was concluded last Friday.

Asco was founded in 1967 to provide support for the nascent North Sea oil sector and employs 1,500 people. It has sites in Peterhead and Great Yarmouth with overseas operations in Australia, Canada, Norway, Trinidad and Georgia.

In March it acquired full ownership of NORM Solutions, a provider of specialist cleaning, treatment and disposal services for oilfield equipmentt contaminated with Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM).

The sale marks an exit by DHPEP from its last investment, having announced in November 2018 it was winding down its business.

Bob Keiller

Bob Keiller: new chairman

DHPEP, formerly Doughty Hanson, acquired Asco from Phoenix Equity Partners just over nine years ago in a deal believed to be worth up to £250 million.

Asco’s last published annual accounts show revenue of nearly £540m in 2018. Accounts for 2019 are due to be lodged at Companies House by the end of this year.

It employs about 1,500 people across more than 70 locations around the world, serving offshore energy operators and major service companies in eight countries on five continents.

Bosses said its sale, together with a refinancing of banking facilities, had secured a “sustainable future” for the 53-year-old business.

Asco will see no change to its operations, with chief executive Peter France and the rest of the existing management team continuing to lead the business.

Mr France said: “We are pleased to have successfully completed the sale of the company and we are also excited to be continuing our journey with Asco’s new investors.

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“Asco has remained resilient during 2020, despite the challenges of changing customer demand which followed the oil price slump in March and the Covid-19-related restrictions imposed throughout many of Asco’s main geographic markets.

“All our operating locations have remained open despite restrictions, and our customers have continued to value and recognise the essential nature of Asco’s services during these difficult times.

“Asco has maintained good financial liquidity throughout 2020 and, in conjunction with the sale, has also secured a refinance of its banking facilities – allowing us to focus on the exciting plans that we have for the future.”

DHPEP partner and former Asco chairman John Gemmell thanked the management for the “significant improvements that have taken place during their time at ASCO so far.”

He added: “The sale and refinancing of the company provide a solid future platform for Asco and we wish the team all the best for the future.”

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