22nd September 2009

Staffordshire based smart battery manufacturer Accutronics Ltd has been bought out of administrative receivership, saving 47 jobs in Newcastle under Lyme.

Catapult Venture Managers and Orbis Partners LLP have backed the acquisition of the business together with an invoice discounting facility provided by Fortis Commercial Finance.

Accutronics specialises in developing and manufacturing custom-designed batteries for high-end global OEM businesses. The business is a centre of excellence in battery design, developing the battery electronics solutions in-house to maximise performance, safety and lifetime. Its batteries are used in the medical, military and industrial electronics sectors powering critical high performance products such as medical ventilators, night vision goggles, deep sea data logging & telematics and industrial robotics.

Formerly owned by a Chinese state owned conglomerate and trading as Moltech Power Systems Ltd, the business slipped into administrative receivership in August when the parent company closed its battery operations in Shanghai and the USA. The business dates back almost 40 years in the UK and has operated under a number of different ownerships including General Electric and Energizer.

Accutronics is led by Managing Director Robert Phillips, who has run the business for the last eight years. Orbis Partners introduced local businessman and operating partner Peter Jackson as Chairman. A successful entrepreneur and investor, Peter has held a number of roles in the UK and internationally in manufacturing and engineering businesses.

Robert said: “The business has always been strong at delivering quality products and service to its customers. Now the business is under UK ownership with supportive partners there is a big opportunity to consolidate our market position and target new customers in Europe and the USA.”

James Grenfell of Orbis Partners said: “The business is operating in a strong niche market, producing high tech solutions for quality global OEM businesses. It has excellent customer relationships with market leaders in the medical, military and industrial products sectors who genuinely value the company’s design and service skills. This is the 27th investment that Orbis has made and further demonstrates our strategy of acquiring businesses in difficult situations which with the right support and investment have the opportunity to create significant capital value.”

Catapult has invested £300k from the Catapult Growth Fund. Ed Wass, Investment Manager with Catapult commented: “Accutronics has a good management team in place, which has been further strengthened by Peter Jackson. Fundamentally, this is a good business operating in the high margin, low volume, intelligent battery sector. Despite operating issues with the former owners, the business is firmly established as a European leader in the design and assembly of smart batteries, providing custom-based solutions to OEMs.”

Rob Carroll, Managing Director of Catapult, added: “We have continued to invest in companies throughout the economic cycle and this is our 68th transaction since 2001. Our doors remain ‘open’ for business during even the toughest times and, so far this year, we have completed a number of new investments, as well as further ones into our portfolio of companies.”

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