AEA Technology, which was spun out of the Atomic Energy Authority in 1996, had been recently crippled by pensions liabilities and was placed into administration under a pre-pack deal. On their appointment, the KPMG administrators immediately sold certain of the business and assets to a subsidiary of Ricardo, securing 390 jobs based predominantly in Oxfordshire, London, Risley and Glengarnock.
The administrators also sold the shares of Eastern Research Group Inc, the US trading subsidiary, to NEK Acquisition LLC, a new company set up by one of the company’s former founders, securing 374 jobs.
KPMG restructuring partner Will Wright, administrator of AEA Technology, said: “The UK business fitted the ‘pension zombie’ bill as, despite its operational profitability, its pension scheme liability dwarfed revenues. Unable to sustain its pension liability, the company faced a funding crisis which necessitated the appointment of administrators. The company’s directors undertook comprehensive marketing of the operating businesses and there was a huge amount of interest with over 100 interested parties making contact. We are pleased that we have been able to secure new owners for these businesses, securing 764 jobs.”
Administrators are now working on selling the US subsidiary Project Performance Corporation Inc, a technology business that is not in any form of insolvency procedure and is trading normally.
The addition of AEA, with revenues last year of £39m, increases the size of Ricardo by approximately 20%.
AEA will trade as Ricardo-AEA and Robert Bell remains managing director. Mr Bell said: “I am extremely pleased that AEA Europe has become part of Ricardo. The transaction both secures the future for AEA Europe and provides a platform for its continued success and growth as a part of the global Ricardo organization.”
Ricardo CEO Dave Shemmans added: “AEA Europe has a strong reputation for its technical capabilities and has a pre-eminent position in advising on and developing major environmental policies. This acquisition supports our ongoing strategy and marks the continued development of Ricardo as the global multi-industry supplier for high quality strategic, technical and engineering services.
“The two businesses share a similar technology-focused professional culture, based on the delivery of innovative world class services to our customer base, utilizing highly skilled employees. Our common long term strategic drivers of reducing carbon emissions, maintaining air quality and the management of scarce resources provide an excellent opportunity to further develop Ricardo’s expertise in delivering high value-added services to our global customer base.”
AEA managing director Robert Bell, who now becomes managing director of Ricardo-AEA, added: “I am extremely pleased that AEA Europe has become part of Ricardo. The transaction both secures the future for AEA Europe and provides a platform for its continued success and growth as a part of the global Ricardo organisation.”