Cosalt's division lifted by specialist contracts

MARINE safety group Cosalt said its offshore division has won two multi-million pound deals with subsea specialist Acergy in the UK and Norway.

The Grimsby-based company said it will provide all of Acergy's lifting services in the UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea.

The group said that the two one-year contracts are worth up to a total of 3m at present and there is scope for a further increase in the workload over the coming months.

Cosalt Offshore will provide a total management service and supply the products needed to fulfil all of Acergy's subsea lifting equipment requirements.

Cosalt Offshore has won a number of significant deals over the last year, including long-term contracts with PSN and Chevron covering lifting work in the North Sea.

Announcing the deal, Mark Lejman, chief executive of parent company Cosalt plc, said: "Cosalt Offshore has an established track record of offering a cost-effective service in which quality safety is paramount.

"The success of our approach has been proven time and time again through retaining existing clients and starting to work with new ones.

"Building strong relationships with our customers and meeting and frequently exceeding their expectations is at the core of the company, along with high levels of investment in ensuring we have the best equipment and team of engineers in the industry.''

The subsea lifting service for Acergy will include storing equipment such as mechanical handling gear and shackles, full stripdown and preparation as well as providing experienced vessel inspection engineers and advice in compliance matters.

An experienced team, led by an account manager, will be held on standby to accommodate any request anywhere in the world.

Acergy is a leading global seabed to surface engineering solution provider that specialises in harsh and challenging environments.

Earlier this month, Cosalt announced it had appointed well-known industry figure Rod Buchan as the new chief executive of Cosalt Offshore.

Mr Buchan was managing director of Aker Offshore Partner and previously held a variety of roles with the company since joining in 1998.

Cosalt said he has vast experience in the UK and Norwegian offshore markets of leading large-scale, long-term contracts with major operators.

Mr Lejman said: "Rod has an enviable reputation in the oil and gas industry established over 30 years.

"His experience is very much aligned with Cosalt Offshore's ethos of providing exceptional service for customers across the North Sea."

He added: "Rod's appointment marks the end of the necessary changes made to the senior offshore management team and the creation of a new stronger team. The actions taken over the last three months have proven to be correct and we are grateful to our customers for their excellent support throughout."

The group's shares fell to an all-time low of 3.75p last October after the company said it had uncovered a 4m hole in its offshore division's accounts, stemming from "a series of doubtful transactions".

Cosalt started probing the offshore division in early September, and suspended its head Calum Melville.

Mr Melville and his brother Stuart, the division's operations director, have both subsequently resigned.

Cosalt said the internal review revealed "evidence of a company-owned stock and work in progress shortfall of up to 4m".

The group said it identified "a series of doubtful transactions" with an unnamed supply company, accounting for much of the shortfall.

The company insisted it has enough stock to meet its commitments and ensure its services are not interrupted.

The group's banks have been kept closely informed and the shortfall is not expected to have any further impact on the company's net borrowings.

Shares in Cosalt rose 9.41 per cent last night to close at 4.62p following the announcement of the two deals with Acergy.

Acergy is now part of Subsea 7 after the merger of the two companies was completed earlier this month.

The merged company will offer clients access to a high-end, diversified fleet, comprising 42 vessels.

This will be supported by extensive fabrication and onshore facilities to deliver subsea engineering, construction and services.

A safe pair of hands for fishermen

Cosalt dates back to 1873 when The Great Grimsby Coal, Salt and Tanning Company was established.

The early co-operative provided products that enabled fishermen to carry out their work more efficiently and safely.

In the twentieth century it expanded significantly, both organically and by buying a number of manufacturing businesses.

The company shortened its name to Cosalt and in 1971 it floated on the London Stock Exchange.

In 1972 it received the Queen's Award to Industry for its export performance.

Cosalt's acquisitions continued into this century when it bought marine safety specialist the Bofort Group and GTC.

Over the past five years Cosalt has streamlined its business to focus on marine and offshore, selling its holiday homes and childrenswear businesses for nominal sums.