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North East deals of the week: key acquisitions, contracts and investments

Engineering firm Reece Group’s two central defence firms are set for major investment and job creation after being acquired in a multimillion-pound deal by global defence giant, Rafael.

The region’s proud tradition of defence manufacturing has been given a huge vote of confidence after Reece Group Ltd, based in the Armstrong Works on Newcastle’s Scotswood Road, confirmed the sale of Pearson Engineering and Responsive Engineering to defence contractor, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

Rafael has a strong presence in international defence markets and solid links with the UK, having recently been selected by the British Army to provide the Trophy Active Protection System, a product designed to defeat anti-tank missiles and rockets, saving soldiers’ lives.

Read more: Northumbrian Water pays first dividend in three years as revenues rise

Washington firm PDQ Engineering Ltd is preparing for growth following a management buyout backed by a seven-figure funding package.






© RGCF and PDQ
Left to right: Tom Cosby (RGCF), Ben Kain (RGCF), Carl Swansbury (RGCF), Richard Mellett (PDQ), Alan Shield (PDQ), David Pearce (PDQ), Jason Parkes (PDQ) and Wayne Phipps (PDQ)

PDQ Engineering Ltd was acquired 18 years ago by Paul Jackson and his wife Gayle, more than 20 years after Mr Jackson first became a director at the business. Based in a 11,500 sq ft facility in Washington, PDQ Engineering produces component parts for a range of sectors, such as offshore energy and medical industry, using specialist CNC technology.

The company, which manufactures components on site from raw materials, has now been bought out by its seven-strong management team, which has acquired all of Mr and Mrs Jackson’s shares to take 100% ownership, with their financial contribution supported by a seven-figure funding package from NatWest.

Led by commercial director Richard Mellett, the management team includes Wayne Phipps, David Pearce, Jason Parkes, Gerard Jackson, Chris Leach and Alan Shield.

Mr Jackson said: “Gayle and I are exceptionally proud of this business and have complete confidence in the management team who will maintain the high standards we have set, which has enabled the business to carve out a strong position in the supply chains within the industries we serve.”

Drug discovery company e-therapeutics is looking to accelerate the next stage of its growth on the back of a £13.5m fundraise.

The company, a Newcastle University spin-out with bases in Newcastle and Oxford, uses biological data to discover life-transforming medicines. Earlier this year it told investors that it enjoyed a “landmark year” by progressing a number of its research and development programmes.

Now the company has announced a fundraise of £13.5m through a subscription for new ordinary shares by funds managed by M&G Investment Management Limited, an institutional investor and an existing shareholder of the company. The firm said the fundraise will provide it with the opportunity to ramp up growth through a number of new initiatives, including the creation of a new template for drug discovery. It said new initiatives to accelerate growth will also see it create new jobs.






© Tolent
A CGI of the Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) in Sunderland

Gateshead construction company Tolent has won the contract to build the £15m Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy in Sunderland.

Tolent has been awarded the contract to design and construct the Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA), which will be led by Sunderland College in moves to train local people to create innovative factory-built new homes, the first of which will be assembled at Riverside Sunderland. Planning consent for the development was granted in March and it is hoped that work will be able to start later this year when the technical design is complete.

Once complete, the facility – based at Sheepfolds on the site of the existing goods shed on the corner of Hay Street – will have a number of education and industry partners including the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), which is led by Washington-born TV architect, George Clark.






© Supplied by UKSE
Juliette Brown (left), director, Design Xpress Ltd with Sarah Thorpe, regional manager at UKSE.

Print company Design Xpress Ltd has received a six-figure funding boost as it hopes to reach £1.5m turnover.

The Consett-based firm – a large format printer offering items such as posters, banners and signage – has secured the boost from UKSE, the the Tata Steel business-support subsidiary. Growth plans are in place for the firm, which supplies global print management companies, the public sector and small businesses.

Director Juliette Brown, who founded the company in 1995, said: “The past two years have been difficult as they have for so many businesses. Demand from the hospitality and events sector disappeared during lockdown but we didn’t close down and remained optimistic about recovery.

“Our work with other sectors such as pharmaceutical, financial, manufacturing and the public sector helped us through. Working with major print management companies involves us with national names such as Nestle, Hilton Hotels, Pfizer and Volvo. We also won some work connected with the pandemic including adhesive footprints for floors to ensure safe routes through public buildings.”






© Supplied by Influential PR
Quanta’s North East headquarters.

Energy industry engineering supplier Quanta has received a multimillion-pound injection from a private equity investor including two local authority pension funds.

Cramlington-based Quanta, which also runs an Aberdeen office, has received the investment from Foresight North East Fund which is funded by Durham County Council’s Pension Fund and Teesside Pension Fund. The firm emerged from an Engie Group buyout in 2018 led by chief executive officer Nick Oates who has overseen a broadening of services into renewables and other infrastructure.

It is the first regional investment for the Foresight North East Fund which can offer up to £5m investments and is “cornerstoned” by Durham County Council’s Pension Fund which committed £18m at its launch. Quanta said the deal will help it accelerate growth plans in the hydrogen, carbon capture and offshore wind markets.

Plans are in place to grow the firm’s headcount following the investment as Quanta confirmed two senior appointments in Ian Clifford as non-executive chairperson and Catherine Earl as finance director. Nick Oates said: “We are delighted to be working with Foresight and are excited about the future.

“Our ability to capitalise on future growth opportunities and support our clients is now enhanced by an experienced, local investment partner. As we look forward, we are assisting our clients to tackle various energy challenges, including the need for increased domestic energy security in line with the Government’s British Energy Security Strategy, whilst also driving the energy transition – with Foresight’s backing we are looking to the future with ambition and high expectations.”

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