Upgrade to ChromeUpgrade to FirefoxUpgrade to Internet ExplorerUpgrade to Safari

SME Investment Partners successfully exits Hornbill Engineering Group

11th July 2023

SME Investment Partners has successfully sold its shareholding in Hornbill Engineering Group, as part of its acquisition by OCU Group.

Hornbill Engineering is a specialist electrical engineering company servicing clients across the power, water, gas, rail and Industrial Services sectors. Hornbill was founded by Russell Scaplehorn in 1989, and from its base in Neath it has a workforce of 120 skilled employees. Following a Management Buy Out in 2021, the business has continued to enjoy strong growth amid significant investment in green energy infrastructure and the drive to decarbonize.

SME Finance Partners have worked with Hornbill since 2019, supporting the business along it growth journey. Darren Edwards led Hornbill through its Management Buy Out in 2021which saw SME Investment Partners invest alongside Operations Directors, Gavin Murray and Jon Brooks, with founder Russell Scaplehorn retaining an equity stake. Additional support has been provided by the team at SME since the MBO, with Julian Evans (Financial Management) and Amy Foat Smith (Human Resource) working to position the business for growth and a successful exit.

Having accelerated growth plans since 2021, the sale of Hornbill to OCU Group, the national energy and utilities group, opens up significant further opportunities for the business and its workforce. Stockport based OCU Group is backed by US private equity firm Triton Partners, and has a proven track record of accelerating growth having recently posted annual revenues of £295m, up 34% on the previous year.

Michael Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of OCU Group, said: “This latest acquisition was an obvious choice for OCU Group, offering the business access to a skilled workforce and helping bolster our reputation as an engineering-led organisation. Acquiring Hornbill not only strengthens our presence across the South-West but also opens doors in the region, aligning with our long-term growth strategy. This acquisition will also play a significant role in expanding our portfolio of renewable energy infrastructure, furthering our commitment to sustainability.”

Hornbill founder, Russell Scaplehorn, commented “We are delighted with the outcome of the transaction process and believe that OCU will be an excellent partner for the business going forward”.

Darren Edwards, co-founder of SME Finance Partners and SME Investment Partners added “This is a great outcome for all parties, and I’m particularly pleased for Russell who deserves every success having founded the business over 30 years ago.  Continuity will be provided with Gavin & John staying with the business, and as part of the wider OCU group, there will be great opportunities for the workforce”.

Corporate Finance advice was provided by Grant Thornton, with Capital Law supporting on legals

Darren Edwards said “Grant Thornton were first class on this transaction, instrumental in delivering an excellent outcome for the shareholders, and I’d like to thank Jamie Roberts and his team for all of their work on this. I’d also like to thank Alex Loxton from HSBC for funding the MBO in the first place and for the support that they have given over the years”.