A fast-growing subsea services firm that has completed takeover deals worth more than £70 million in the past 18 months is contemplating a flotation on the London stock market.
Aberdeenshire-based Triton Group has revealed that an initial public offering is one of the options it is studying as it looks to "create a long-term sustainable business".
Chief executive Martin Anderson told The Scotsman that to go public, under lying profits would have to grow by about 50 per cent, something he was comfortable about achieving over the coming year or so.
The firm joins a raft of Scottish oil and gas companies that are understood to be running the rule over a stock market flotation in the next couple of years, including Aberdeen-based PSN, which last week booked full-year revenues of $1.2 billion (£607m).
Triton, which was founded in early 2007 after a buyout of Perry Slingsby Systems, is on track to post gross revenues of about $260m for 2008, with earnings before tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) expected to top $50m.
"The business is backed by a private equity partner, and there is an exit for them at some point," Anderson said.
"We will be looking at a recapitalisation. Whichever way we do that I need a successful, sustainable business or nobody is going to invest in it. For the public markets, we need our ebitda to be upwards of $70-80m. We are just starting to creep into that territory."
Anderson said any listing would focus on London's main exchange, rather than the Alternative Investment Market. The last Scottish flotation on the main market was Superglass, the Stirling-based insulation manufacturer, last July.
Headquartered in Westhill, a feeder town for Scotland's oil capital, Triton encompasses seven businesses. The firm is backed by Houston-based private equity firm SCF Partners, which last year opened an Aberdeen office, and supported by Royal Bank of Scotland. Its services include supplying remotely operated vehicles and tooling systems to offshore operators, staff recruitment and and equipment rentals.
Anderson, who has worked in the oil and gas industry since graduating from Heriot Watt University in 1984, said that while the firm was "thriving around the opportunities in oil and gas", it was increasingly looking at the renewable energies market for new income streams. "We have the expertise to tap into the offshore windfarm sector," he said. "Life beyond oil is obvious for me - it's about energy in general."
Anderson said he was to keep the acquisitions ball rolling. "I think it's realistic for us to be able to do another two, possibly three, deals over the next 12 months," he said.
One of Triton's key areas of expertise is remotely operated vehicles - a booming area of demand in the oil and gas industry.
Fuelled by the search for black gold in ever deeper waters, the world of ROVs is pioneering advances in technology.
As a result, the demand for skilled pilots and technicians is said to be at an all-time high.
According to the Underwater Centre, a subsea training school based in Fort William, a newly qualified, inexperienced pilot technician straight from an ROV course can expect to earn about £150 a day. Team leaders with several years' experience can earn four times that sum.
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