Cheers to the spirit of col­lab­o­ra­tion

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - FEATURES -

Amul­ti­mil­lion-pound deal agreed by two of the north-east’s best known en­trepreneurs high­lights tra­di­tional strength and newly-ac­quired vul­ner­a­bil­ity in today’s oil and gas in­dus­try.

Bal­moral Group’s Jim Milne has in­vested £10mil­lion in Al­fie Cheyne’s Ace Winches in a mu­tu­ally-ben­e­fi­cial ar­range­ment which po­ten­tially opens new mar­kets glob­ally.

In re­turn, Mr Milne and his fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor will oc­cupy key places on the Ace board. Bal­moral’s fi­nan­cial mus­cle and group sta­bil­ity of­fers a life­line to Ace af­ter a tur­bu­lent pe­riod for the com­pany, which has lost jobs.

There are com­pelling rea­sons for the tie-up given the syn­ergy be­tween the com­pa­nies, but there are 650 other good rea­sons – that is the num­ber of jobs which de­pend on the fu­ture de­ci­sions of both men.

The oil and gas sup­ply chain is just as vul­ner­a­ble to the down­turn as the ma­jor North Sea play­ers in ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion.

Ace is a per­fect ex­am­ple: or­ders for man­u­fac­tured deck and lift­ing gear have shrunk along with the mar­ket forc­ing the firm into a rough patch, yet its ex­per­tise and world­wide re­spect for its prod­ucts is too im­por­tant to lose. Bal­moral’s mas­sive cash in­jec­tion and pooled re­sources means it should ride out the storm and evolve in readi­ness for a strong come­back as the mar­ket im­proves.

Both com­pa­nies have deep reser­voirs of tal­ent in the north-east, but are global brands with tremen­dous world­wide po­ten­tial to ex­ploit. The same can be said of the off­shore sec­tor in gen­eral over the next 30 years.

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