Laser company targets growth following MBO

The new owners of a South Wales company which has spent eight years developing a range of high performance and high reliability lasers are aiming to double its turnover within three years following a management buy-out.

Global Laser was founded in 2001 by five private investors, two of whom - chairman, Dr John Watkinson and managing director, John Miller - have now been joined by finance director, David Beckerley, to buy out the three other original shareholders. The deal was financed by the management and Finance Wales plc, with Mark Hislop at Broomfield & Alexander advising on valuation, the business plan, forecasts, heads of terms agreement, deal negotiation and management together with deal structuring and tax planning.

Legal advice was provided by Eversheds, and the Knowledge Bank, the Welsh Assembly Government’s scheme which supports high growth companies in Wales, also provided consultancy support. Now the company, which employs 22 people on the Cwmtillery Industrial Estate in Abertillery, is ready to capitalise on the years of product refinement and the development of unique digital laser control technology to push turnover up from its current £1.2m to £3m in the next three years.

Global Laser’s advanced laser modules consist of a laser diode to produce the light, a lens to create the desired output – a straight line, grid pattern, or concentric rings – and electronic control components, and have a vast range of applications from robotics and healthcare to defence. They are sold all over the world, including USA, China, Japan and Korea, and uses include bar code reading, lining up of components on circuit boards or buttons on shirts, guiding patients into medical scanners, retinal scanning and measuring tyre depths on F1 cars as they race around circuits.

Managing director, John Miller, a former Vodafone and Halifax Building Society board member, said quality and innovation were the watchwords which would take the company forward into new markets and new contracts. “Over the years, we have taken lasers from a low-value, utility item into a range of high powered, sophisticated applications,” he said. “That innovation has continued with our drive over the past three years to develop software which now enables us to move from analogue to digital control. We are the only company able to do this, and it means we can miniaturise lasers to allow them to be used in an even greater range of applications. We will now be looking to improve our partnership arrangements with our customers, distributors and agents, and together growing a very strong order book."

Broomfield & Alexander’s director of corporate finance, Mark Hislop, said the company was a good example of one with a high quality product in a developing market, which would benefit from the fresh thinking and dynamism of its new management structure. “The MBO will enable Global Laser to further explore additional areas of commercial activity involving the next generation of laser technology, whilst continuing to work on the delivery of ever improving quality to its customers,” he said.

Global Laser has received investment from Finance Wales plc in previous funding rounds.

Rachel Miles, Portfolio Executive at Finance Wales plc led on the deal with Rhian Pugh, Investment Executive. Rachel said the management buy-out would allow Global Laser to push ahead with growth plans. “The seamless succession of a management team is crucial to continued growth of a business. We are pleased to have supported the management buy-out at Global Laser with investment funding which will allow the company to grow and develop new products and markets.