BHP Law helps Norwegian firm with North East-based subsidiary acquire Online Electronics Limited (OEL)

IK-Group AS benefits from new addition through skillsbase in developing products for pipeline monitoring, data communication and logging systems

From left, managing director of IK-UK Ltd Richard Whadcoat, with Gary Copeland and Karolyn Scott of BHP Law, and IK-UK Ltd chief financial officer Ray Schofield
From left, managing director of IK-UK Ltd Richard Whadcoat, with Gary Copeland and Karolyn Scott of BHP Law, and IK-UK Ltd chief financial officer Ray Schofield

North East legal experts have completed a multi-million pound acquisition for a Norwegian oil and gas company that is expected to strengthen its UK base in County Durham.

Business and commercial property lawyers at BHP Law worked on the deal for IK-Group AS, whose UK subsidiary, IK-UK Limited, is based in Newton Aycliffe.

The company has acquired Online Electronics Limited (OEL), a leading global pipeline communications specialist based in Aberdeen, with subsidiaries in the United States, Dubai, Singapore and Perth, Australia.

BHP Law, which has acted for IK-UK since 2011, completed the work for the Stavanger-based parent company within four months through a team led by corporate law specialist Gary Copeland, assisted by Sonia Hunter and Karolyn Scott.

Mr Copeland said: “The multi-national nature of the companies involved and OEL’s subsidiaries meant that we had to operate across different jurisdictions in the various territories.

“It was a pleasure to work with IK Group as clients. The teamwork and pragmatic approach given to the deal assisted immensely in what were some complex and protracted negotiations at the early stage.”

Also crucial to the successful completion of the move, he added, was Roald Hunvik, of Alpha Corporate Finance, the transaction advisors who set up the acquisition and contributed significantly to the negotiations.

Among the issues to be considered throughout were: property purchase, tenancy agreements, intellectual property, the transfer of 40 employees, grants, and distributor and agent contracts.

Ms Hunter explained: “As OEL is based in Scotland we supplemented our knowledge of Scottish law by instructing local solicitors to assist with specialist Scottish land aspects.”

Ms Scott added: “It was a complex case, especially in terms of due diligence and incorporating all OEL’s subsidiaries into the share purchase, but we’re delighted for both parties that we were able to complete quickly and efficiently.”

The acquisition brings together IK-Group AS’s skillsbase in niche pipeline engineering services and the manufacturing of ‘pigs’ - devices used in the maintenance of pipelines - with OEL’s expertise in developing cutting-edge products for pipeline monitoring, pipeline data communication and logging systems.

In total, IK-Group AS now employs close to 200 people.

Chief executive Christian Bull Eriksson said: “The acquisition of OEL further strengthens and widens IK’s position within the pipeline sector of the international oil and gas industry.

“The investment is expected to create additional jobs in the next 12 months through increased market share driven by research, development and special engineering projects.

“IK-Group will keep the well-established OEL brand and global structure as this has proven to be highly successful. The companies are an excellent fit and fully complement each other in terms of sector, technology and geography.”

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