Cognetas, Englefield buy £135m UK utility company

Buyouts in the regulated utility services sector continue as firms seek defensive sectors for a possible economic downturn.

European mid-market buyout firms Cognetas and Englefield Capital have bought Morrison Utility Services from Anglian Water for £135 million ($271.9 million; €176.4 million), according to a statement.

The company provides services to the electricity, gas, telecoms and water sectors.

It employs more than 3,300 people and has a turnover of around £500 million for the year
ended March 2008. It also has an order book in excess of £1.4 billion, according to Cognetas.

Jonathan Mussellwhite, a partner a Cognetas, said: “The company has a track record of historic growth and has been successful at winning a contracts. Our plan is to continue the business’ ongoing growth path.”

He said the company was sheltered from any downturn in the economy because its business is regulatory driven and the company’s utility clients are required to undergo an ongoing maintenance programme of their infrastructure, which lends itself to outsourcing.

Other firms are also investing in the utility services sector at the moment, HSBC Private Equity, the captive arm of the global bank, which has recently returned to doing deals in the UK, bought a minority stake in utility monitoring company Transmission and Distribution Group for an undisclosed sum last month.