Kelvin Hughes

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ECI acquires world leading manufacturer of marine navigation technology

ECI Partners LLP (“ECI”), the UK mid-market buyout specialist, has acquired Kelvin Hughes in a £52m transaction out of Smiths Group plc, the UK listed technology company.

Kelvin Hughes is a leading supplier of navigation products and services for the Naval and Commercial marine sectors. The purchase price comprises £48m which was paid in cash on completion of the purchase and a deferred payment of up to £4m depending on certain conditions being satisfied. Senior members of Kelvin Hughes management invested alongside ECI, becoming shareholders in the business.

Kelvin Hughes has a highly innovative product range, which is designed to provide mariners with the most advanced navigation systems and services available. Its products include radar sensors and display technology, Voyage Data Recorders, Electronic Chart systems and highly advanced Integrated Bridge Systems. In addition, through ChartCo, it provides a unique and highly cost effective means of providing bulk data to ships via satellite. Kelvin Hughes is also the world’s largest supplier of nautical charts and publications for commercial and leisure use.

Kelvin Hughes designed and produced the world’s first solid state marine navigation radar, SharpEye™. This innovative product represents a step change in commercial radar performance and brings military grade radar performance to the commercial marine marketplace for the first time. Other Kelvin Hughes products are used in a wide range of commercial vessels, luxury yachts and cruise liners, including the new Queen Mary 2. They are also in service with over 30 navies around the world, including all United Kingdom Royal Navy warships.

Following the transaction, Kelvin Hughes will increase its investment in technological innovations and constant product development to further strengthen its position at the forefront of naval and commercial navigation technology. Kelvin Hughes operates in a growing market, driven by the increasing legislative requirements on mandatory safety, situational awareness and navigational equipment. ECI is backing the existing management team led by Russell Gould, MD and the growth of the business will be driven through both organic expansion and acquisitions.

The transaction was led for ECI by Ken Lindsay, Chris Warren and Tom Wrenn.

Ken Lindsay, ECI, comments: Kelvin Hughes is a great example of a high quality British technology and manufacturing business. It has led the world in its field for more than 250 years and continues to innovate. We are keen to back successful British success stories such as this company to allow them to continue to grow and prosper in world markets. Kelvin Hughes has developed an extremely impressive product in SharpEye™. It has been developed by military radar experts and represents a step change in terms of performance and cost effectiveness far in advance of other radar products available today. This product is creating enormous excitement in the marine sector.

Russell Gould, Managing Director of Kelvin Hughes, comments: This is an exciting time for everyone at Kelvin Hughes. With ECI’s support we are extremely well placed to build on our current position as a world leading producer of navigation technology. The sector we operate in is growing due to the increasingly legislative environment affecting the marine industry, and we feel that we are ready and equipped to capture the market opportunity.

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