Powell Duffryn continues engineering disposals

Powell Duffryn, the port services and engineering company acquired by NPIL for £509 million in December 2000, has announced the disposal of its Hamworthy Belliss & Morcom division for £26 million.

The manufacturer of high pressure reciprocating compressors has been sold to Gardner Denver, a US company that manufactures compressed air and petroleum equipment. Hamworthy Belliss & Morcom is based in Gloucester, UK, employs 334 people and last year generated revenues of £39 million. Gardner Denver simultaneously announced the acquisition of US-based Hoffman Air and Filtration Systems from Invensys for $45 million.

On completion of the original deal, the first private equity investment in a port operator, NPIL made clear it’s intention to dispose of Powell Duffryn’s engineering divisions in order to focus on the company’s ports and shipping businesses. The disposal of Hamworthy Belliss & Morcom is the third of the planned divestments following the £92 million sale of Geesink in July and disposal of the smaller JiP business. Geesink, a Dutch manufacturer of rubbish-collecting vehicles was sold to the American Oshkosh Truck Corporation and JiP, a Danish district heating ball valve manufacturer was acquired by Danfoss.

Chief executive of NPIL, Brian Berry, said: “Today’s announcement is another step in the disposal programme and we are delighted that we have secured a buyer for the business who recognises the quality of HBM’s products and service capabilities. Negotiations are progressing with potential purchasers of the remaining Powell Duffryn engineering businesses, all of which are leaders in their fields.”NPIL’s Powell Duffryn deal, made through Prestige Acquisitions, was the investor’s first public-to-private transaction and its largest investment to date. In April this year the investor structured a securitisation of the ports business, which includes the ownership and management of the ports of Tees and Hartlepool.

This was also the first securitisation of a ports business in Europe. The £305 million raised was used to reduce the debt financing of the public-to-private deal. The proceeds of the engineering disposals will also be set against these debts and used to develop the ports business. NPIL has not ruled out the possibility of Powell Duffryn making acquisitions in Europe.

Deutsche Bank, which advised NPIL in the public-to-private transaction, also acted as broker in the sale of Hamworthy Belliss & Morcom.