A 140-year-old Midlands agricultural and groundcare equipment sales business has changed hands in a complex management buyout deal which could pave the way for growth.
The firm - FHB Holdings - is parent of Burgess, which operates from its head office in Shrewsbury with branches across Shropshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Wales.
It has been supplying agricultural and groundcare equipment - from tractors and mowers to chainsaws and workwear - since the 1900s.
As well as farms, it supplies the garden-owning general public, councils, utility companies and landscapers with machinery and offers an after-sales spares and repair service.
It has been taken over by accountants Jonathan Budd and Greg Duce - following six months of negotiations involving corporate lawyers from the Birmingham office of Shoosmiths.
They were able to untangle a complicated network of more than 160 shareholders during the lengthy management buy-out deal, clinched for an undisclosed sum and backed by HSBC.
Mr Budd and his partner joined FHB in 1996 to resolve a number of financial issues facing the family-owned business.
By 2002 these issues had been largely resolved. They recognised a need for further investment in the Burgess business, but were unable to secure it without a mandate from the company's 160 shareholders.
"It was like trying to run a business with our hands tied behind our backs," said Mr Budd. "But then in 2006 the shareholders acknowledged that there needed to be a change of ownership if Burgess was to progress."
Mr Budd and Mr Duce were invited to bid for the company, and their subsequent offer was accepted.
"There were all these competing demands from shareholders, and as there were so many of them it made for an extremely complicated and lengthy process. The amount of documentation and work involved was disproportionate to the size of the deal."
Shoosmiths partner Geoff Perry said: "An ostensibly straightforward MBO involving a relatively modest amount of money was made very involved by the sheer number of shareholders.
"Having that many in a relatively small company is quite unusual, and it meant we had to structure a public company-style offer to all of them.
"It is pleasing, though, to have completed the deal successfully, and to have played a part in laying foundations for the future of what is a well established, well regarded company."
Burgess, which employs some 100 staff, is now looking to build its ground-care equipment business.
Meanwhile, the Birmingham corporate banking centre of the Co-operative Bank has played a leading role in the management buy-in of an East Midlands-based specialist hand tool manufacturer.
The bank worked closely with corporate financial specialist Watersheds to provide a financial package for William (Eddie) Thomas to acquire Maun Industries. Mr Thomas now becomes managing director at the company.
Maun Industries, which employs 45 people at its site in Sutton In Ashfield, started out towards the end of World War II and developed as a supplier of tools in the post war construction boom.
More recently the company moved into the production of parallel action pliers, pincers and their variants for niche markets.
It has been sold by Dr Geoffrey (Ted) Rippon, whose father established the company. He will now retire from the business after 30 years at the helm.
Steven Taylor, business development manager at The Co-operative Bank, said: "We are always keen to support experienced management teams and we knew straight away that Eddie Thomas and Maun Industries were a good fit.
"Maun is a fine company with a long tradition, a manufacturer and exporter that is a leader in its field. Watersheds' expertise was fundamental to the successful outcome and we have been pleased to work with them on this transaction."
John Keeble of DFA Law in Northampton handled the legal work for the purchaser and Clarke Willmott in Birmingham acted for the Co-operative Bank. Saffery Champness carried out financial due diligence.