Engineer HG Group in German hands after deal

Bilfinger Berger, the German industrial giant, has acquired HG Group, a £12m-turnover specialist engineer based in Chesterfield.

The fast-growing company employs 100 people and designs and installs complex industrial control systems for blue-chip customers at home and abroad and sells into sectors including nuclear power, renewable energy and aluminium and metals.

Bilfinger’s industrial services division bought HG Group for an undisclosed sum from exiting shareholders Dave Henery and Graham Stevens.

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Mr Henery, 56, said: “We are not getting any younger. We wanted to see a successful transition.”

He and Mr Stevens, both directors, will stay on at the company for at least two years to help with the integration.

He said the coming together is “very complementary” with the scale of Bilfinger and its range of services providing both a good strategic and geographic fit with HG.

HG Group’s three companies provide niche system solutions and support services to help clients improve efficiency and safety at industrial plants.

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It is one of the region’s fastest-growing businesses with turnover rising fivefold over the last seven years. Mr Henery said international trade accounts for 40 per cent of turnover.

The business was founded in 1979 to serve the coal mining industry. “It had to diversify and moved into energy, which is where the coal went to, then diversified into other areas,” said Mr Henery.

Italian steel firm Ansaldo bought the company in 1994, opening up the metals sector.

The next key event was a management buyout with Mr Stevens and colleague Stuart Denton in the late ’90s. Mr Henery bought out Mr Denton seven years ago.

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The group was hit by the financial crisis but avoided having to make redundancies, said Mr Henery. “The green shoots fairly quickly came back again,” he added.

He said the company is renowned for its expertise and ability to solve problems.

He and Mr Stevens decided to sell the company before they reached 60 and asked BHP Corporate Finance to find them a buyer.

BHP researched the market, approached some parties and secured three serious offers, said Mr Henery, who added that Bilfinger had “a very thought out and clear strategy and we fitted that very well”.

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Duncan Hall, managing director of Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services Division, told the Yorkshire Post that the acquisition of HG Group “gives us quite a unique set of services to do control and automation and panel construction and site installation and service that nobody else in the UK will have”.

He said: “We want to grow the business on the back of that.”

Bilfinger’s UK business has a turnover of £300m and employs 4,000 people.

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