Norwich oil firm Acteon on the market for £1bn

City A.M. Reporter
BRITISH oil services firm Acteon is up for sale for around £1bn as its private equity majority shareholder seeks to cash in, according to reports.

American investor First Reserve has reportedly appointed bankers JP Morgan to dispose of the Norwich-based firm.

First Reserve, which could not be reached for comment, bought a 52 per cent stake in Acteon in 2006 for £70m and is set to be handsomely rewarded for its decision to invest.

Acteon specialises in oil rig moorings and the decommissioning of wells and provides sub-sea services in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and Brazil.

In 2010 the firm made a pre-tax profit of £36m as sales rose eight per cent to £311m.

Chief executive Richard Higham is thought to own around a quarter of the business, meaning that his stake is potentially valued at £250m, which would make him one of the wealthiest individuals in the UK.

Fourteen senior managers could also strike it rich with a share of a £220m pot if they cash in a combined 23 per cent stake – although the Sunday Times, which first reported the sale, suggested that some of these executives may decide to retain their interest in the business.

Acteon employs over 1,700 people and is one of the largest employers in East Anglia. It was formed in 2004 from UWG Group and has since undergone rapid through a string of acquisitions.

Constituent firms include wind turbine firm Menck, engineering arm Claxton and contractor 2H Offshore.

First Reserve was founded in 1983 and specialises in energy-focused private equity. It is led by the American William E. Macaulay and claims to have raised $23.1bn during its existence.