HSBC PE Leads GBP70 Million Funding for CRP

CRP Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of marine flotation equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry, is poised for further growth following a GBP70 million (ecu 100 million) expansion funding led by HSBC Private Equity’s Manchester office.

HSBC PE, which provided half the total funding from its own resources and via the HSBC Private Equity Partnership Scheme, acquired a majority share in the business from its private owners and managers. The previous owners have reinvested in the company, and an equity-related trust for employees has been put in place. The balance of the funding comprised senior debt from Barclays Acquisition Finance. The transaction, initiated by Ernst & Young, Manchester, is the largest investment by a Northwest-based private equity firm this year.

CRP was founded in 1974 to manufacture the first polymer lifebuoys and later expanded into related flotation markets. The group built a new factory in 1990, and after a recruitment and reorganisation programme, enjoyed increased rates of growth. By late 1996, it became clear that CRP would outgrow its production facilities, and the following year the company embarked on a major site development programme. Phase 1 of the expansion programme, which was funded by GBP4 million of CRP’s own resources and has doubled the company’s manufacturing capacity for syntactic polyurethane products, completed in August. CRP expects turnover of more than GBP30 million in 1998/9 and has a strong order book for the coming years.

The expansion component of the HSBC investment will support continued development of both the Skelmersdale operation and CRP’s international base.