Mettis group to be formed by 3i purchase

An engineering group with sales of £70m will be created by venture capital company 3i’s purchase of eight aerospace and orthopaedics companies from National Industries Group of Kuwait. The new Mettis Group will employ 960 people, mostly in the UK. One third of its sales are expected to come from the US and the remainder […]

An engineering group with sales of £70m will be created by venture capital company 3i’s purchase of eight aerospace and orthopaedics companies from National Industries Group of Kuwait.

The new Mettis Group will employ 960 people, mostly in the UK. One third of its sales are expected to come from the US and the remainder from the UK and Europe. For the year to March 1999, 3i forecasts profits of £13m.

Most of the businesses were bought by the Kuwaiti National Industries Group in 1996 as part of BI Group, which was then a listed company.

Mettis, which could be floated in three years, will be headed by former Sheffield Forgemasters aerospace head Des Kavanagh.

The main business is making precision components through subsidiaries Thornton Precision Components in Sheffield, Aerospace Forgings in the West Midlands and Jet Engineering in the US. Their products include engine blades, aerofoils, aero furniture and hip and knee prostheses.

It also includes aerospace machinist Marlyn Precision (Birmingham and Stroud) and specialist surface treatment and testing services companies Nu-Pro Surface Treatments (Stroud), Thortex (US) and Commercial X-rays (Halesowen, West Midlands).

The 80% stake in the companies taken by 3i cost it £170.5m. Mike Robins, 3i investment director, said the price reflected Mettis’ strength in niche markets.

The company has strong orders from aerospace customers including Rolls-Royce and Airbus Industrie and orthopaedics customers including Johnson & Johnson and Smith & Nephew.