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Aberdeenshire firm Aubin now under Italian ownership

The sale of Ellon-based Aubin marks an exit for BGF.
The sale of Ellon-based Aubin marks an exit for BGF.

North-east energy services firm Aubin Group is now under Italian ownership following a sale by its previous shareholders.

Italmatch Chemicals, based in Genova (Genoa) in northwest Italy’s Liguria region, swooped to buy the Ellon business for an undisclosed sum from shareholders including founder Paddy Collins and banking industry-backed investor BGF.

Queen’s Award-winning Aubin is internationally recognised as a key developer and supplier of chemical solutions for the energy industry, with a long-term focus on research and development (R&D).

The company’s last published accounts show pre-tax losses and turnover of £1.2 million and £4.5m respectively in the year to June 30 2021.

A total headcount of about 20 employees will join Italmatch’s international oil and gas business unit following the takeover.

New chief executive

The division is led by sales and marketing director Scott Miller, who will take over as Aubin’s chief executive, replacing Katy Gifford, from July 1.

Mr Collins is Aubin’s chief technology officer and was the firm’s majority shareholder.

The new owner recognised the value in technology and expertise within the business and was committed to further investment in R&D, Mr Collins said, adding: “All our discussions with Italmatch demonstrate their commitment both to excellence and also to growing their sustainable solutions.

“I am confident it will be a good home for the business.”

Aubin was launched in 1987 and given a major boost in 2013, when it received a £2.25m investment from BGF (then the Business Growth Fund).

The deal marked BGF’s fourth investment in Scotland and only its third in the oil and gas industry.

It has now exited the investment in full, selling its 33% stake in Aubin as part of the deal that saw Italmatch acquiring 100% of the Aberdeenshire firm.

Aubin’s base in Ellon.

BGF investor Richard Pugh said: “BGF has been a long-term investor in Aubin, helping build the foundations of the business and develop a wide range of new products that can both reduce costs and have lower environmental impact.

“More recently, the new technology focus has been on the energy transition – spanning from novel approaches to plugging and abandoning wells which will reduce costs and emissions dramatically, and also ways to improve the installation of offshore wind foundations.

“After nine positive years of collaboration, this new investment marked an appropriate moment for BGF to exit and we are sure Aubin will continue to be successful.”

Richard Pugh, investor, BGF.

Italmatch chief executive Sergio Iorio said the acquisition of Aubin was another step in the Italian company’s growth strategy in areas of interest such as the Middle East, as well as “our journey of sustainability”.

Mr Iorio added: “Our company has always invested in the continuous transformation of its product portfolio, with increasing focus dedicated to sustainable and circular solutions in all the end markets it caters to, including oil and gas.

“Thanks to its sustainable solutions, Aubin likewise embodies excellence in the renewable energy market. This synergy will further boost our R&D efforts as a group.”

Italmatch boasts revenue of £600m

Founded in the late 1990s, Italmatch specialises in flame retardants and performance additives for the water treatment and oil and gas industries, as well as for lubricants and plastics.

The group employs more than 1,100 workers and generates around £600m in revenue annually.

It operates 19 manufacturing plants in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and North America, and also owns subsidiaries in Brazil, Belgium, Poland, Singapore and Japan.

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