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Gardline staff assured it’s ‘business as usual’ by new owners Boskalis after £40m deal

PUBLISHED: 16:58 18 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:43 18 August 2017

Gardline chairman Gregory Darling, pictured in 2014. Picture: Archant.

Gardline chairman Gregory Darling, pictured in 2014. Picture: Archant.

Archant Norfolk © 2014

The new owner of a Norfolk offshore firm has moved to reassure staff at its Great Yarmouth base that it is “business as usual” after it changed hands in a £40m deal.

The new owner of a Norfolk offshore firm has moved to reassure staff at its Great Yarmouth base that it is “business as usual” after it changed hands in a £40m deal.

Multinational engineering firm Royal Boskalis Westminster bought surveying specialist Gardline on Tuesday, saying it saw “significant synergies” between the “complementary” services offered by both groups.

Gardline employs 750 people globally, but has seen staff numbers drop from more than 1,700 in 2015 as the depressed oil and gas market took its toll, while Boskalis embarked on its own cost-cutting programme in May of this year, with the ambition of saving 30-35m euros annually.

Martijn Schuttevâer, director of investor relations at Boskalis, said the Dutch company recognised Gardline was an important employer in Great Yarmouth “and would continue to be so, going forward”.

“This is a clear acquisition for opportunity, and not from a cost-cutting point of view,” he said.

Boskalis earlier this year sold its remaining stake in Gardline’s surveying competitor Fugro.

He added: “We have done this acquisition with a clear intent of strengthening our own activity base in Europe and potentially beyond, around surveying and geotechnical activity, where Gardline has a clear track record.

“Despite a tough market environment there are opportunities out there and together we want to see how we can further grow [the business].”

Mr Schuttevâer said there were no plans to rebrand Gardline.

He said the fact that Gardline was often involved in the early stages of major offshore projects, through pre-construction surveying, was an appeal for Boskalis, which has until now offered services which come later in the project.

Law firm Birketts advised on the deal, which saw the hiving out of some of the businesses from the diverse Gardline Group, including Howards estate agency and Lankelma, which will remain under the control of their previous owners.

Former Gardline Group chairman Gregory Darling said: “This was a simultaneously multiple transaction as there were several activities to deal with including the extraction of some businesses and careful negotiation of on-going responsibilities. The global nature of the business required some added mental gymnastics.”

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