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Tue May 11 2021

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RSK losses widen as acquisitions hit the half-century

14 Apr RSK Group, probably Britain’s most acquisitive company, has taken over four more business but continues to make a loss.

Alan Ryder, founder and chief executive of RSK
Alan Ryder, founder and chief executive of RSK

RSK, set up by Alan Ryder in 1989, has now acquired 50 business in the past five years.

The latest to join the RSK Group are RSK Orbital, SkyVision International, The Scan Station and Smith & Kennedy Architects. These are the first acquisitions for RSK in the new financial year that started 5th April.

RSK has also filed its accounts for the year to 5th April 2020, showing turnover up 34% to £280m and a pre-tax loss of £15.7m (2019: £9.6m). RSK has not made a pre-tax profit since 2016/17 when it started out on this acquisition trail with venture capital backing.

RSK Orbital is an aerial surveillance and photography business based in Cheshire in which RSK already had a stake since 2017. SkyVision International and The Scan Station are subsidiaries of RSK Orbital also in the aerial survey business. SkyVision specialises in monitoring pipelines from the air and was established 25 years ago in conjunction with Barr Air Patrol from Texas. Now fully integrated into the group, the three businesses will retain their existing leadership, workforce and brands, as they join RSK’s geosciences and engineering division under the direction of George Tuckwell.

RSK Orbital managing director Adam Gallacher said: “We already have an excellent relationship with RSK and are excited to build on our success, now that we are part of the group.”

Smith & Kennedy Architects is a 20-strong Dublin architectural practice, set up in the early 1960s. Managing director Joe Kennedy will continue to lead the business as it joins RSK’s European division under the direction of Nigel Board. Smith & Kennedy Architects will work closely with RSK Ireland, RSK’s existing Irish business, led by managing director David O’Hagan.

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Alan Ryder, RSK founder and chief executive, said: “The four new businesses, though very different, each fit perfectly into our growing group, widening our offering so we can deliver the greatest value to our clients. With innovation at their core, RSK Orbital, SkyVision International and The Scan Station will be fantastic assets for RSK. Ireland is an important growth area for RSK, so I am also very pleased to welcome Smith & Kennedy Architects into the group.”

Based on its current trajectory and strategy, RSK reckons that by 2025 it will be delivering an annual turnover of £1bn and will employ 10,000 people around the world.  It is backed by £350m of debt finance from venture capital firm Ares Capital Europe.

Latest accounts show an operating profit of £2.9m (down from £5.8m the previous year) but interest repayments of £18.8m more than wiped that out. RSK ended the year with £240.8m of debt, up from £162.6m at the start of the year.

In mitigation, Alan Ryder said: “RSK has invested heavily in the business to create a solid platform for continued growth, incurring significant costs linked to establishing strong financial foundations. This is in line with our planned ongoing expansion by acquisition (through debt financing) together with organic growth.

“Our EBITDA grew by 32% to £26.6m from £20.1m in the previous year. We have a strong balance sheet with a robust cash and borrowing position. Cash generation was good and we closed the year with more cash in the bank than we have ever had before, £33.5m.

“I believe we have never been better placed and I am looking forward to taking the business forward in FY22 and completing further acquisitions as well as seeing significant organic growth in the business.”

RSK acquisitions since April 2016

  1. ADAS
  2. Dynamic Sampling
  3. JB Site Investigations 
  4.  Acies
  5. KMGP
  6. Ian Farmer Associates
  7. Cole Jarman
  8. Up & Under Group
  9. CJ Associates
  10. RSKW
  11. Central Alliance
  12. Non Destructive Testing Services
  13. Copeland Wedge Associates
  14. Twig
  15. CAN
  16. PB Drilling
  17. BTS Group
  18. the TBF Contracting businesses
  19. Pellings
  20. Dr Tillmanns & Partner
  21. Headland Archaeology
  22. Drilling Supplies & Hire Services
  23. Consents Solutions
  24. Biocensus
  25. Adverbo
  26. RAW Technology
  27. Geocore Site Investigations
  28. Ecologia Environmental Solutions
  29. ATP
  30. Silcock Leedham Group
  31. Salix, Morrison Falklands
  32. Nicholas O’Dwyer
  33. Ground Heat
  34. PA Group
  35. RoC Consulting
  36. WRc
  37. Cognica
  38. Boden & Wasser
  39. Amphos 21
  40. Pharos Generator Services
  41. Pharos Field Engineering Services
  42. Binnies (including Black & Veatch Limited, Black & Veatch Hong Kong Limited and Black & Veatch (SEA) Pte Limited in Singapore)
  43. CAS
  44. EDP
  45. CR Civil Engineering
  46. Enviresearch
  47. RSK Orbital
  48. SkyVision International
  49. The Scan Station
  50. Smith & Kennedy

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