North-east firms strike £10m deal to save 150 jobs

En­trepreneurs: £10mil­lion agree­ment to ‘pro­vide sta­bil­ity’ amid down­turn

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KEITH FINDLAY

TWO lead­ing north-east en­trepreneurs have struck a £10mil­lion deal which is ex­pected to pro­tect 150 jobs in the re­gion.

Bal­moral Group boss Jim Milne is pump­ing the cash into Ace Winches, led by Al­fie Cheyne, in re­turn for an undis­closed stake.

Aberdeen-based Bal­moral and Ace – head­quar­tered at Towie Bar­clay Works, near Tur­riff – say the deal will cre­ate new op­por­tu­nites for both busi­nesses.

The two firms em­ploy 650 peo­ple be­tween them, in­clud­ing 150 at Ace.

Deck machin­ery spe­cial­ist Ace has, like many firms, strug­gled since oil prices slumped and Bal­moral’s in­vest­ment is a valu­able life­line for work­ers who have seen col­leagues lose their jobs.

Mr Milne said: “It is our hope that the work­force can be added to in the years ahead.”

Two of the north-east’s best-known en­trepreneurs have struck a £10mil­lion deal giv­ing one of them a stake in the other’s busi­ness.

Self-made busi­ness­man Jim Milne, chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Aberdeen-based Bal­moral Group, is now chair­man of Ace Winches – based at Towie Bar­clay Works, near

“Work to­gether to max­imise global op­por­tu­ni­ties”

Tur­riff – af­ter Bal­moral’s ac­qui­si­tion of an undis­closed stake.

Ace’s founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive is Al­fie Cheyne, 53, who left school with few qual­i­fi­ca­tions but went on to de­velop his en­gi­neer­ing firm into a suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional busi­ness.

But the com­pany has had a grim time of it since the oil price plunge, suf­fer­ing pre-tax losses of more than £2mil­lion in 2014-15 and forced to axe jobs. It cur­rently em­ploys 150 peo­ple.

Ac­counts for 2015-16 have yet to be filed at Com­pa­nies House, with the deck machin­ery spe­cial­ist hav­ing missed a dead­line of July 31.

Bal­moral, with more than 500 peo­ple on its pay­roll, has been pro­vid­ing en­gi­neered prod­ucts and ser­vices to the en­ergy, en­gi­neer­ing, marine, build- ing, poly­mer en­gi­neer­ing and pro­cess­ing sec­tors since 1980.

Its lat­est in­vest­ment will “pro­vide sta­bil­ity for Ace Winches” go­ing for­ward, Mr Milne said yes­ter­day.

He added: “It is our hope the work­force can be added to in the years ahead.”

Bal­moral’s fi­nance di­rec­tor, Bill Main, also joins the Ace board as a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

The two firms aim to “work to­gether to max­imise global op­por­tu­ni­ties in the off­shore, re­new­ables and de­com­mis­sion­ing mar­kets”, Bal­moral said in a state­ment. Mr Milne added: “Ace Winches has built a very strong rep­u­ta­tion for pro­vid­ing world­class deck machin­ery and lift­ing so­lu­tions and we recog­nise the po­ten­tial in the com­pany.”

Mr Cheyne said: “Both Ace Winches and Bal­moral Group have ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of open­ing up new mar­kets.

“We see the re­new­ables and de­com­mis­sion­ing sec­tors, in par­tic­u­lar, of­fer­ing strong growth po­ten­tial both in the im­me­di­ate and longer term.”

NEW START: From left, Va­lerie Cheyne, Al­fie Cheyne, Jim Milne and Bill Main are ex­pect­ing a brighter fu­ture for Ace Winches

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