Bluewater Private Equity Successfully Exits px Group

28 April 2021
  • Bluewater has sold px Group to the management team led by Geoff Holmes and backed by institutional investors.
  • px operates and maintains highly complex energy transition and industrial infrastructure assets across the UK.
  • In 5 years under Bluewater ownership, the company’s revenue trebled, and annual profitability has increased seven-fold.
  • Bluewater has returned 3.0x MOIC and 30% IRR on its investment in px.
  • Graeme Sword, Founding Partner at Bluewater said, “This is a great example of the benefits private equity can bring to both companies and investors. Our strategy was buy-and-build, and in 5 years our investment has more than trebled. In the same period, we have transformed the company to a leader in energy transition by using our network to supplement the management team and drive growth both organically and via acquisition. px is now well-positioned as the market leader to capitalize on the energy transition in the UK and Europe. Bluewater wishes the company, CEO Geoff Holmes, and their talented workforce well for what will be a bright future under the new ownership.”

Private equity company Bluewater announces it has sold px Group (px), having transformed the business during its five years of ownership to a market leader operating energy and energy transition assets throughout the UK. 

Bluewater has overseen 27% average annual growth, a near trebling of turnover, highly cash generative operations, and a seven-fold increase in EBITDA, from circa £2m the year before acquisition to over £15m in 2021.

Graeme Sword, Founding Partner at Bluewater, said, “I am pleased that this growth has been achieved during one of the most challenging economic climates in memory, impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. We implemented a diversification of contracted revenue streams and expertise at the company, which helped it to weather the storm. I’m delighted it has been a successful exit in line with our targets.”

Bluewater, alongside the management team and Chairman Chris Picotte, acquired px in 2016 through its industry relationships and prior track record of successful investments in similar companies. There was an excellent fit between the px business strategy and Bluewater’s industry experience and investment model. Management was drawn to Bluewater given its deep industry relationships and prior track record scaling similar companies. With its domain expertise, Bluewater has been the driving force behind the significant growth at px. The company’s operated third-party sites have increased from two plants in Teesside to eight sites across the UK, making px responsible for 30% of the country’s natural gas demand – an important bridge fuel in the country’s efforts to decarbonize and cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035.

In 2018, Bluewater led the complex carve-out acquisition of Saltend Chemicals Park from BP, transforming px into the sole owner and operator of the 370-acre industrial center. Saltend has since become the home of Equinor’s H2H Saltend, a landmark project that will create one of the UK’s first blue hydrogen plants and the world’s first decarbonised chemicals park. Saltend has also attracted new site tenants such as Pensana, which support the renewables industry. In addition, px is playing a critical role in several carbon capture & sequestration and hydrogen projects, including Scotland’s Acorn and Net Zero Teesside.

Bluewater made significant investments to build out the px executive team, bringing Geoff Holmes on board to reinforce the growth mindset, whilst maintaining a culture of operational and commercial excellence. Together with management, Bluewater supported the acquisitions of Camm-Pro and NRG Well Management, expanding services offerings across engineering and project management solutions to clients across the energy industry. Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, px and Bluewater delivered EBITDA growth of more than 15% this year, demonstrating resilience and the critical nature of the services, and secured a long-term capital structure that looks beyond the pandemic.

Geoff Holmes, CEO of px Group, said today, “From a company perspective, working with Bluewater has really demonstrated the advantages of private equity. We can move fast and take a longer-term view, without being fixated on quarterly results. The Bluewater team provided invaluable strategic oversight, sector understanding and support throughout our journey. px is now in great shape and well-positioned for future growth across energy, industrials, and the energy transition.” 

Graeme Sword continues, “It has been a pleasure to partner up with Chris Picotte and px’s dedicated management team to develop the company and provide it with all the necessary tools for growth and strategic development. The results perfectly demonstrate that our buy-and-build strategy, our knowledge of the entire energy sector, and our extensive network of contacts can create value for investors and build business resilience. I am confident that px will continue to be successful under its new ownership and we wish the new shareholders, management and px employees every success in the future.”

Media Contacts 

Frazer Blyth, Bluewater              [email protected]          +44 77 9304 1618

Andrew McLachlan, Media Zoo    [email protected]           +44 79 3137 7162

Notes To Editors

About Bluewater

Bluewater is a specialist international private equity firm focused on the middle-market energy sector. Its experienced investment and operating professionals drive value creation as they manage $2.5billion of investment across a portfolio of 22 companies. Today it has a prime focus on projects or technologies that contribute to the energy transition agenda, and works to a diversified investment strategy based on the principles of sustainability and close working partnerships with best-in-class management teams. It has a strong focus on ESG, and is a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

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