Scottish oil firm attracts Norwegians

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The Independent Online

Norwegian private equity group HitecVision has emerged as a frontrunner in the £200m auction of Viking Moorings, the Scottish oil services company.

Viking adviser NM Rothschild put the business up for sale earlier this month. Senior management and private equity group Inflexion boughtViking for just £22m in 2006 and are keen to cash in on the oil price boom.

A source said: "The information memorandum came out last week suggesting a price of £180m to £200m. Norwegian private equity is interested."

Another source said £200m was "quite a big price" but confirmed HitecVision, which has received the sale document, would be interested. "It's an oil gas business which is HitecVision's space, and Viking is pretty much a Norwegian business itself."

Viking is based in Aberdeen, Singapore and Stavanger in Norway. Hitec is also based in Aberdeen and Stavanger, as well as having offices in Houston and Oslo. A sale is hoped to be completed by the end of the summer.

Viking has worked in the North Sea for more than 20 years. It provides chains to moor offshore oil and gas rigs. Management who co-own the firm include chief executive Petter Nilsen and chairman Steve Curl.

Hitec has invested in and established more than 65 companies, and specialises in the energy sector. It was founded on the back of Norway's emerging oil service industry in the 1970s.

In March it increased its buyout fund by one-third to $800m (around £400m), and counts engineering consultant Noble Denton and specialist flange maker Technor among its investments.

Inflexion specialises in small buyouts, such as April's £70m acquisition of SMD, a Newcastle-based oil services company.