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Former employee rescues Weir Pumps in £48m deal

09 May, 2007

A Scottish multi-millionaire has stepped in to rescue Weir Pumps - the company where he served his engineering apprenticeship - from closure. Jim McColl is leading a consortium that is paying £48m for the Weir Pumps business after an earlier planned sale to the Swiss Sulzer group collapsed.

McColl - reckoned to be Scotlandís tenth richest man with a fortune worth some £435m - is transferring the Weir business to a new company, Clyde Pumps, operating under the umbrella of his Clyde Blowers organisation. McColl hopes to expand attract new business by offering Weirís pump products to his existing customers which include power station builders in countries such as China, and the oil industry.

McColl is reported to have raised £62m to finance the deal, with more than £10m of this being earmarked to develop the business.

Weir Pumps employs around 600 people at a site in Cathcart that it has occupied since 1886. The company has to vacate this site, which is still owned by the Weir Group, by March 2009. Weir was planning to build a new factory for the pumps business in Cambuslang, near Glasgow, and McColl may proceed with this plan.

The Weir Group will continue to supply parts for the pumps business, and McColl will provide spares to Weir to service its existing customers.

The Weir Group is disposing of the pumps business because, although it accounts for nearly 8% of the groupís turnover, its contribution to profits has been less than 5%. Last year, Weir Pumps generated operating profits of £4.2m from sales worth £70.5m. Weir intends to focus on its higher margin flow control operations.