Offshore rig service provider TSC seeks acquisitions, tie-ups

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 March, 2011, 12:00am

TSC Offshore Group, a provider of control systems and parts and engineering services, mostly for offshore drilling rigs, is seeking to acquire or co-operate with firms with product technology, market channels and engineering expertise to expand sales.

The main-board-listed firm, headed by mainlanders - chairman Jiang Binghua and chief executive Morgan Zhang - is much smaller than international majors like National Oilwell Varco and Aker Solutions. TSC is estimated to have a 2.5 per cent share of the global offshore rig supplies market, compared with United States-based National's 70 per cent and Norway-based Aker's plus-20 per cent, according to TSC.

'Being smaller and nimbler, we seek opportunities in niche markets and try to get into the value chain earlier,' said chief financial officer Peter Lim Joo Heng.

The company hopes to invest in or form partnerships with companies that will allow TSC to offer its equipment and services to more and newer types of drilling ships, such as those that operate in deep waters and those that integrate oil and gas drilling, production and processing in one ship.

'We are not going to buy manufacturing facilities in China,' Lim said. TSC has plants in China, Houston in the United States, Brazil, and Britain, and is looking to buy facilities in Brazil and Singapore.

Last September it bought a 51 per cent stake in Jurun, which provides petroleum engineering services, rents and repairs equipment and distributes parts globally, for HK$46.67 million. It also formed a joint venture with Russian heavy engineering firm Uralmash-Izhora Group last October to develop the Russian drilling equipment and solutions market.

Jiang said TSC was in early talks to provide equipment and services to mainland state-owned oil and gas producers' projects in Brazil and the Caspian Sea in Central Asia.

TSC last week posted a net profit of US$13.6 million for 2010. It had a net loss of US$10.24 million in 2009.

Gross profit margin jumped to 36.4 per cent from 18.8 per cent in 2009 when profit was dragged down by low-margin contracts of Britain-based mechanical handling equipment designer and maker Global Marine Energy that TSC acquired in 2008. Lim said profit margins could further improve this year as efficiency gains were achieved from the restructuring of Global Marine and its integration into TSC.

High oil prices would bolster oil and gas producers' drilling demand this year, while more stringent safety rules in the wake of BP's major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would also raise upgrade spending on rigs, Jiang said.

The company's share price rose 8.2 per cent to HK$1.97 after the results announcement last Friday.