Wed, 26 Jul 2023 | BUSINESS SALE
The assets and most of the contracts of R&W Civil Engineering have been acquired by Octavius Infrastructure, after the civil engineering firm fell into administration earlier this month. The administration came after R&W saw its trading impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation.
On July 13 2023, R&W filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators, with Sandra Mundy and Paul Davies of James Cowper Kreston provisionally proposed as joint administrators, according to court filings. In the filing, the company said it was “in very advanced talks” with a potential buyer.
The Southampton-headquartered company was founded in 1981 and provided a range of civil engineering services, specialising in the highways sector. In its accounts for the year ending March 31 2022, it reported turnover of £31.8 million (down from £34.6 million a year earlier) and an operating profit of £895,000 (down from £996,000 a year earlier).
The firm attributed the fall in turnover to “secured work being delayed following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused issues mobilising new contracts from new and existing frameworks”. The company added that it had also been hit by “uncontrollable resource inflation felt across all elements of the construction supply chain”.
Following the appointment of administrators, the company’s business interests have been acquired by Octavius Infrastructure, formerly known as Osborne Infrastructure and part of the Geoffrey Osborn Group prior to its 2021 acquisition by Sullivan Street Partners.
The deal, which safeguards 122 jobs at R&W, forms part of Octavius’ “next growth phase”, with the company seeking to enter “complementary areas” through M&A activity, alongside its organic growth strategy. Octavius said that the acquisition would significantly bolster its offering in the highways sector.
Octavius CEO John Dowsett revealed that: "R&W is an organisation that we had identified in our acquisition strategy some time ago as a great fit both culturally and in terms of their complimentary capability.”
He added: “Securing this acquisition supports our ambitious growth plans to become a market leading transport infrastructure provider.”
“The combined offering of Octavius and R&W has the capability to both self-deliver and integrate an SME supply chain to deliver a broad range of highway and civils projects for a variety of customers; from small reactive responses to large major projects, regionally and nationally, safely delivering these with a consistent collaborative approach that is underpinned by our aligned core values.”
Octavius said that the deal “aims to ensure, wherever possible, continuity for R&W employees, customers, and supply chain alike.” The firm added it was “committed to ensuring a smooth transition for all, minimising disruption as far as is possible.”
In R&W’s accounts for the year to March 31 2022, its fixed assets were valued at £19,456 and current assets at £14.3 million, with net current assets standing at close to £8 million.
With distress and insolvency levels rising rapidly in the UK construction sector, M&A opportunities are set to increase for buyers with the cash to do deals.
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