GREENWICH, Conn., HOUSTON and LONDON, December 19 /PRNewswire/ --

First Reserve Corporation, the largest energy-focused private equity firm, announced today that it is continuing its long tradition of investing in the global oilfield services market with the planned acquisition of Abbot Group plc ("Abbot") (LSE: ABG). The deal, which values Abbot's existing issued share capital at 906 million pounds sterling (US $1.8 billion), will be the largest private equity buyout ever accomplished in the drilling services industry and the first and largest European oil field services take-private. The acquisition will be made through Turbo Alpha Limited ("Turbo Alpha") a newly incorporated company formed for the purpose of implementing the transaction and controlled by a fund advised by First Reserve Corporation.

Turbo Alpha has received irrevocable undertakings from the members of the Abbot board of directors who hold Abbot Shares, with such undertakings representing approximately 13 percent of the company's existing issued shares. Pending approval of Abbot shareholders and the satisfaction of various other conditions to the acquisition, the transaction is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2008 or shortly thereafter.

"We are very impressed with the growth achieved by Abbot Group under Alasdair Locke's leadership. The deal brings two premier organisations together and provides attractive opportunities for growth. First Reserve has a long history of assisting oilfield service companies achieve their international growth plans, and Abbot's platform for growth is second to none. We look forward to working with the company's management and employees in continuing to invest the necessary time and cash resources to its business and facilities to support a focused expansion programme both in the UK and internationally. We are delighted that the Independent Directors of Abbot have unanimously decided to recommend Turbo Alpha's proposed acquisition," said Will Honeybourne, Managing Director of First Reserve Corporation.

The Abbot Group is a leading international oil and gas services business which operates in more than 20 countries worldwide. The Group's predominant focus is on providing drilling services and rig operations to major oil companies in its key strategic areas of Europe, North and West Africa, the Middle East, the Caspian area and Russia. It is the largest offshore platform drilling contractor in the North Sea, an international owner and operator of mobile offshore drilling units and one of the largest international land drilling contractors outside the Americas. Abbot is also a leader in the field of drilling rig design and construction and the manufacturer of land drilling rigs and related components.

"This acquisition builds on our 25 years of experience in the global oilfield service market," said Mr. Honeybourne. "The oil industry's intensive programme of onshore drilling developments focused on the Eastern Hemisphere presents attractive opportunities in Russia, the Caspian, the Middle East as well as North and West Africa."

He added, "It's a business we know well, and we are looking forward to working closely with the team at Abbot to exploit the opportunities we see. Long-term industry demand, based on global needs for increased oil production over the medium to long term, makes Abbot an attractive acquisition for First Reserve."

The commitment to growth is reflected in the fact that First Reserve will fund further expansion in markets including Russia, the Caspian area, the Middle East as well as North and West Africa. The management of Abbot Group will be providing 25 million pounds sterling (US $50 million) of equity to demonstrate its commitment to the business.

"The management team's commitment to advancing the company in new markets while maximising its existing products and facilities in chosen, existing markets was a key attraction for investing in Abbot," said Joe Bob Edwards, Managing Director of First Reserve Corporation.

First Reserve Corporation has an impressive track record in oilfield services, having been instrumental in building several of the industry's biggest and most recognisable names including Weatherford, National Oilwell Varco and Dresser-Rand Group. In Europe, First Reserve Corporation portfolio companies include global well testing company PowerWell Services, which acquired the well testing division of the French firm, Geoservices, and Norwegian downhole sampling company Petrotech. Having originally bought PowerWell Services from Halliburton, First Reserve Corporation subsequently sold the company to Expro International Group PLC. Current portfolio company Acteon Group, which is headquartered in Norwich, is a global leader in deepwater subsea services and has also been an active acquirer including recent acquisitions of IMS, Chainco and Seatronics from Aberdeen-based Craig Group.

First Reserve Corporation's other past investments in Europe have included North Sea gas producers Caledonia Oil & Gas and Highland Energy.

For further information please contact: First Reserve Corporation +1-203-661-6601 Caitlyn MacDonald Cubitt Consulting +44-020-7367-5100 Simon Brocklebank-Fowler Michael Henman John Anderson CJP +1-212-279-3115, ext. 201 Mark Kollar


1. About First Reserve Corporation

First Reserve Corporation is the oldest and largest private equity firm specialising in the energy industry. Founded in 1983, First Reserve was the first private equity investment firm to actively pursue building a broadly diversified global investment portfolio of energy companies. Since 1992, First Reserve has raised over 6.25 billion pounds sterling (US $12.5 billion) for its buyout-focused funds. The firm is currently investing from its most recent fund which closed in 2006 at approximately 4 billion pounds sterling (US $8 billion). Throughout its 25-year history, the strong franchise that the firm has developed by investing exclusively in the energy industry has served as a competitive advantage for First Reserve. For more information on First Reserve Corporation, visit

2. Oilfield Services Investments

First Reserve Corporation estimates that 20 percent of oilfield services companies that have a publicly listed market value of greater than 500 million pounds sterling (US$1 billion) are either now or have been companies in which it has invested on behalf of its buyout funds.

Web site:

Caitlyn MacDonald of First Reserve Corporation, +1-203-661-6601; or Simon Brocklebank-Fowler, Michael Henman, or John Anderson, all of Cubitt Consulting, +44-020-7367-5100; or Mark Kollar of CJP, +1-212-279-3115, ext. 201, all for First Reserve Corporation