JIM McColl, chairman and chief executive of Clyde Blowers, plans to spend at least £100 million this year on expanding his portfolio of industrial businesses, which he estimates is worth around £500m.
McColl, who led a £24.5m public-to-private deal for Clyde Blowers in 1999 after the market capitalisation of the boiler-cleaning specialist fell to just £10m, said he is looking at two new ventures but declined to give details.
Having surpassed his original goal of £300m, he plans to expand further via spinouts, disposals and possibly future stock-market listings of subsidiary companies.
“I’d be surprised if this year we didn’t make several acquisitions. A guide would be £100m for an individual deal,” McColl said.
“We have the potential to make sizeable companies which could be listed with their own CEOs. I’m not keen to be chairman of a listed company again myself. In a few years we could be looking at listing part of the group.”
The Clyde Blowers group has five parts – Clyde Bergemann, in power-related operations; Clyde Materials Handling, handling bulk materials; inBulk Technologies, pioneering new ways of transporting bulk materials; Redwood Capital Partners, the private equity firm headed by McColl; and CleanCut Technologies, working in offshore waste disposal. McColl sold CleanCut to M-I-Swaco (a joint venture between Smith International and Schlumberger) 18 months ago for £250m, but Clyde Blowers and the new owner retain a relationship.
McColl identified Bulk Technologies, which has pioneered a new intermodal transport and storage system for the cement industry, as the brightest growth prospect in the portfolio.
Its system is being trialled in the UK by cement giant Rugby involved in the construction of Terminal Five at Heathrow airport. Mexican cement firm Cemex is also considering using it to transport cement to Manhattan to rebuild the World Trade Centre.
“This will be the next CleanCut,” McColl said, adding that the growth prospects for inBulk greatly exceed those of CleanCut as the global cement market is 100 times larger than the offshore waste market.
11 April 2004