Rutland Partners is pleased to announce that on 1 October 2013 it exchanged contracts with General Motors (“GM”) for the acquisition of Millbrook Proving Ground Limited (“Millbrook”) for an undisclosed amount with additional funds being made available for the development of new facilities.
Millbrook is one of Europe’s leading test and engineering solution providers for the automotive, energy and defence markets. Established in 1969, Millbrook is strategically located at the heart of the UK automotive and fuels industries in Bedfordshire. The business owns a 665 acre site offering over 45 miles of on and off road test tracks with a variety of surfaces, features and terrains, as well as extensive test and validation facilities which complement the proving ground. The business is also a leading convertor of specialist vehicles. Against a backdrop of increasing emissions legislation and safety regulation, Millbrook has built a strong reputation for assisting blue chip customers, both GM and 3rd party, on their engineering and development programmes. The business has revenues of approximately £40m and has over 400 employees.
Under Rutland’s ownership, Millbrook will be led by Miguel Fragoso, CEO. John Notman-Watt, who has 25 years’ experience in the testing, inspection & certification sector, will also be appointed Executive Chairman on completion which is expected to place in early December.
GM will remain a key customer of the business post completion with both parties entering into a number of long term supply agreements. Millbrook has successfully developed third party (non GM) relationships in recent years which account for the majority of Millbrook’s test and engineering revenues and will accelerate this growth in the future aided in part by the expansion of facilities and by help from Rutland to invest further in and expand its service proposition.
Millbrook is the eleventh investment from Rutland Fund II (£322 million) and follows a busy period for Rutland with its recent investments in Buy As You View, Pizza Hut UK Restaurants, AFI Group and Bernard Matthews. In addition, Rutland has exited four businesses over the last eighteen months: Attends Healthcare and Pulse Home Products from Rutland Fund II and NoteMachine and Advantage Healthcare from Rutland Fund I, returning over £200m to investors.
The transaction was led on behalf of Rutland by Nick Morrill, David Wardrop and Rahul Satsangi with support from Ben Slatter.
David Wardrop, Investment Director at Rutland, said:
“Millbrook is a unique asset operating in a number of attractive markets driven by tightening regulations notably in fuel emissions and vehicle safety. The business has a strong reputation within the markets it serves and we are excited to support the team and invest further in the business as it transitions away from its current ownership and develops into an independent test and engineering business”
Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall Chairman and Managing Director, said:
“This is a good day for General Motors and the employees of Millbrook. The acquisition of Millbrook Proving Ground by Rutland Partners is a very positive move for both businesses. GM’s strategic objective is to focus its global engineering facilities on larger regional centres and in Rutland we have found a strong partner to take over the UK engineering operation. Since the early 1970’s, Millbrook has been engaged in the engineering and development of Vauxhall and other GM brands and established considerable expertise in the fields of automotive engineering, development and testing through a world class workforce and proving ground. Rutland’s acquisition is wholly positive. It secures Millbrook’s future, enables further investment in its facilities and important third party business and protects its employees. It also supports the UK Government’s drive to encourage more young engineers to join this thriving business sector. We very much look forward to working with the new Millbrook”.
Miguel Fragoso, Millbrook CEO, said:
“This transaction is a very positive and exciting time for Millbrook, its employees and clients moving forward, with Rutland’s involvement securing access to funds and strategic resources to support investing in people, technology and growth. Both myself and the management team are very confident in Millbrook’s future as a leading organisation in engineering and test technologies”