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Stent parent Balfour Beatty finds Pennine Group a 'good fit' at £8M

BALFOUR BEATTY, UK foundation contractor Stent's parent company, acquired UK geotechnical fi rm Pennine Group for about £8M in early August.

Stent managing director Graham Wren said Pennine fiwas a good fi tfi. fi[The] business is complementary to Stent's as we don't do wider ground engineering work - we are predominately a piling company, fi he said.

Pennine operates throughout the UK and internationally, specialising in vibro techniques for ground improvement, using equipment it also manufactures and sells worldwide.

'Pennine has a good brand name, ' Wren said. 'There are strong opportunities overseas and it has good operating profit.' Pennine had sales of £16M in the fi nancial year ending March 2005, with an operating profit of about £1.5M. It employs 130 staff and is based at Bacup, Lancashire. Wren said there would be no redundancies as a result of the acquisition.

The fi rm will continue to operate independently within the Balfour Beatty Group. Principal shareholders Andy Russell and Dave Mitchell will be retained on a consultancy basis and Pennine managing director Arwel Williams will remain, reporting to Wren.

As well as the UK, where the ground improvement market is growing, driven by increased use of brownfield sites for development, Balfour Beatty believes there is 'significant' potential to expand overseas operations.

'The aim is to grow the contracting business in countries where Pennine has good sales [of its equipment], ' Wren said. Areas being examined include Spain, the Middle East and North America.

'The rationale [behind the acquisition] is that Pennine is a strong business and we need to ensure that continues, ' he said.

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