Bridport boss on hunt for aviation company

Outgoing Bridport chairman David Sebire has venture capital to set up his own firm

Outgoing Bridport chairman David Sebire has secured venture capital backing to build his own aviation-based engineering group through acquisition, he revealed last week.

`I’m hoping to put together a new aerospace company with venture capitalist backing and will be looking for acquisitions in the sector. There are lots of good opportunities,’ he said.

Sebire’s decision to leave Dorset-based Bridport, a specialist in surgical sutures, air cargo restraints, webbing and cabin interiors, follows a failed management buy-out, which was gazumped by a bid from privately-owned US industrial group Marmon Holdings.

Marmon’s 130p-a-share cash offer values Bridport at £30.1m, a premium of 55.7% on the share price on 24 May – the day before Bridport disclosed the management buy-out bid.

`Our bid was the catalyst for Marmon to come and buy us,’ Sebire said. `I am disappointed that the our bid didn’t win the day, but though it’s second best for management, this is the best deal for shareholders.’

Marmon’s medical division makes needles, and its aerospace interests are a close fit with those of Bridport’s, Sebire said.

He added that Bridport was typical of most under-rated small engineering stocks: `The City tends to have fashions and move in one direction. It’s easy to say the City is failing small companies, but I think this marks a permanent change in attitude.

`Unless you’re in something fast-growing, like the internet, institutions just don’t want to know. Aviation is fast-growing, but not fast enough for some funds. A profit growth of 15% is good for most businesses, but fund managers are still not happy.’

Marmon has operations in the UK, having bought four materials businesses from Delta last November in a cash deal worth £27m.

The Chicago-based Pritzker family, controlling owners of Marmon, have asked chief executive Geoffrey Woods and finance director Graham MacSporran to stay and run the business.

Sebire, who holds non-executive posts with builders merchant PTS Group and textiles company Robert H Lowe, was last year chosen by disgruntled investors in fasteners group Widney as their candidate to take over once they ousted the incumbent directors. But they failed to win sufficient support for the move at the company’s extraordinary general meeting.

Copyright: Centaur Communications Limited