BGF invests a further £10m in FrontRow

from left to right: Mike Sibson (BGF), Graeme Coutts (FrontRow Chairman), Stuart Ferguson (FrontRow CEO)
from left to right: Mike Sibson (BGF), Graeme Coutts (FrontRow Chairman), Stuart Ferguson (FrontRow CEO)

FrontRow Energy Technology Group, which specialise in technology and expertise for driving down costs in the oil industry, has secured a further £10m commitment from BGF, the UK’s most active investor in growing businesses, alongside a further commitment from its management team.

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FrontRow has established and developed a group of service companies that focus on oil and gas well technology. BGF and the FrontRow management team originally invested £13m in the Aberdeen-based group in January 2017 to fund its expansion plans.

At the time of BGF’s first investment, the FrontRow group included Well-Centric, a supplier of well integrity services, and Well-Sense, whose “FLI” technology provides a very low-cost way of collecting data from oil wells. FrontRow also has positions in Interventek, a subsea technology company with a unique “shear and seal” valve designed to reduce the cost and improve the safety of subsea well interventions, and Romar, a provider of magnetic separation technology.

Using the original investment, FrontRow has developed all of its group companies, expanding capability and starting new product lines. FrontRow also acquired a significant share of Clearwell Oilfield Solutions, a company focused on flow assurance and production optimisation, and launched Pragma, an innovative downhole production technology company.

In December, and in FrontRow’s largest deal to date, group company Well-Centric completed the acquisition of Simmons Edeco Europe to form Unity Well Integrity. Unity is now the UK’s largest independent supplier of well integrity services, with operations in Aberdeen and Great Yarmouth in the UK, and in Esbjerg in Denmark.

Stuart Ferguson, CEO of FrontRow, said: “FrontRow has grown significantly since BGF’s original investment. The funding helped us to build our existing businesses, to strengthen our presence in the market and to acquire or start new businesses to complement our offering.

“We’re delighted to continue our partnership with BGF, whose ability to provide follow-on funding to its portfolio companies is great for us, and we look forward to realising more of our ambitious growth plans together.”

Mike Sibson, an investor in BGF’s Aberdeen office who sits on the board of FrontRow, said: “FrontRow has expanded substantially over the past two years and has engineered some really innovative developments, both in terms of business expansion and through pioneering technologies. The business model, focused on driving down customer costs, is exactly what the modern North Sea and wider global oil and gas industry needs, and the technologies will play a crucial role in the future success of the industry.

“The team has a wealth of experience in building high-value businesses and we’re looking forward to the continuation of our relationship with them over the next part of their exciting journey.”

BGF’s Aberdeen team was established in 2012 and has committed more than £130m in Scottish business to date. Most recently BGF invested £5m into Parklands Group, one of Scotland’s largest independent care home providers and the investor’s first portfolio company in the Highlands and Moray. BGF also recently provided follow-on funding into Aberdeen-headquartered oil and gas service providers SPEX Group, to support further growth.

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