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Swift and Air Energi merge; private equity will own combined firm

January 26, 2016

Two large engineering staffing providers specializing in the oil and gas industry — Swift Worldwide Resources and Air Energi Group — joined forces in a merger announced today that will form a new firm called Airswift Holdings. However, the combined firm will continue to be privately held by private equity firms Wellspring Capital Management and LGV Capital.

Wellspring owned Swift, which it acquired in 2013. LGV owned Air Energi. Particulars of the deal were not released, but a spokesperson said both Wellspring and LGV will own the combined firm and described the deal as a merger of equals.

Swift ranks No. 56 on Staffing Industry Analysts’ list of largest global staffing firms with 2014 revenue of $701 million. Air Energi ranks No. 60 with 2014 revenue of $637 million.

The combined firm, Airswift, is expected to generate revenue in excess of $1.2 billion a year.

“M&A activity in the oil-and-gas sector has continued despite the current market volatility and marked decline in oil prices since early 2015,” said Matt Norton, senior research analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts. “There is a natural desire to get larger during such periods as bigger companies typically outperform smaller peers when times are tough. This merger should enable the newly formed company not only to weather the current market instability but to fully capitalize when the oil prices begin to recover.”

Leading Airswift as CEO will be Peter Searle, former chief executive of Adecco in the UK and Ireland. Ian Langley, founder and chairman at Air Energi, will serve as chairman of Airswift. Janette Marx will serve as chief operating officer of Airswift; she had served as COO of Swift.

Air Energi CEO Duncan Gregson and Swift CEO Tobias Read will serve as nonexecutive directors of the board.

Swift was based in the US, and Air Energi was based in the UK. However, the combined Airswift will operate from three corporate hubs in Houston; Manchester, UK; and Singapore. It will have 57 operating locations and manage a deployed workforce of more than 6,000 worldwide.

“This is a merger designed to capitalize on the strengths of two successful companies that are similar in size and scale,” said Michael Mowlem, managing director at LGV Capital. “Each company has a commitment to the highest standards for quality and similar ways of working but, until now, have done so in different locations with different customers. Bringing these strengths together creates a much stronger company and an exciting proposition for all stakeholders.” 

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