BSI buys Inspectorate plc, in its biggest ever acquisition

Press release: April 28, 1998

The British Standards Institution (BSI), known for its Kitemark and as a world leader in setting quality and safety standards for industry and consumers, made a strategic move by buying a major player in the worldwide commodity inspection and testing market for £36.5million.

In a mould-breaking agreement announced on Tuesday April 28 1998, BSI acquired Inspectorate plc which operates in around 100 countries, has over 170 facilities around the world including 72 specialist testing laboratories, and over 1800 permanent employees.

With the acquisition, BSI virtually doubled its sales to around £170 million a year. Its total worldwide workforce grows to some 3,400 making it the largest standards body in the world with a highly effective global reach, including emerging markets such as China, South America and Eastern Europe.

Inspectorate has a strong presence in the Americas, with a regional hub in Houston Texas, as well as in Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. In 1997 Inspectorate had sales of £67 million and operating profits of $4.3 million.

The agreement came a week after the Privy Council, with the support of Trade and Industry Minister John Battle, endorsed BSI's request for greater commercial freedom to borrow and invest in new acquisitions.

This followed an Extraordinary General Meeting of BSI's members who gave overwhelming support in favour of a "new look" organisation.

The new, stronger and bigger BSI will provide a more comprehensive service to small and medium size companies and larger multinationals, enabling them to raise their performance and enhance their global competitiveness.

Welcoming the Inspectorate team, Keith Tozzi, chief executive of BSI, said: "This acquisition gives us not only an excellent management team but a new international network with a completely new product stream in quality inspection and analysis in the fields of oil and petrochemical products, metals, minerals, agricultural commodities and general consumer goods.

"It also gives us a stake in the growing market for providing inspection services under contract to various governments around the world.

"BSI is therefore stronger with a portfolio of global products and services. We are already well established in the US, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan and have more than 32,000 clients in 68 countries who choose us as their preferred quality partner.

"Increasingly, we find many of the world's leading companies come to BSI looking for global quality solutions. This acquisition will help us to deliver them".

Commenting on the sale, Jonathan Mussellwhite, an investment executive of Electra Fleming, and up until the sale of Inspectorate, a non executive Director of the company, said: "Inspectorate has been a good investment for us, developing strongly over the last five years.

"Since our acquisition in 1992 the management and employees have built the company into one of the leading international inspection companies. The strategic fit with BSI provides Inspectorate with an enhanced global presence from which to continue its historic growth and is, we believe, in the best interests of the customers, employees, and shareholders".