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East Midlands Chamber News

The future looks brighter for Abacus Lighting

Abacus, the East Midlands based international lighting group, has been acquired out of administration by a group of industrialists and financiers.

Dominic Wong, Christopher Farrington and Paul Meadows from the business advisory firm Deloitte were appointed joint Administrators of Abacus Holdings Ltd, Abacus Lighting Ltd and Abacus Investcorp Ltd on 3 May 2013, and sold the majority of the trade and assets of the Abacus group to an unconnected newly formed company on the same day.

The business is being recapitalised with £5m investment and working capital facilities from a combination of funds managed by Orbis Partners LLP, trade investment from Diesel Marine International and asset based facilities from Centric Commercial Finance.

The group has suffered cash flow difficulties as a result of five years of heavy investment in an ambitious international growth strategy and increasing payments to meet the liabilities of a defined benefit pension scheme, which was over £8m in deficit.

For over 55 years Abacus has earned its reputation for providing innovative, creative and durable columns, masts and lighting systems across a wide variety of markets. Under the new ownership, Abacus will build on the core strengths of the business, with an increased customer focus and the resources to ensure that the innovation and quality which it is known for continues to thrive.

The group is headquartered in Sutton in Ashfield and in 2012 the Group turnover was £32 million 50% of which went into overseas markets. The business employs 150 people in the UK who were all transferred across to the new business.

James Grenfell, Senior partner at Orbis Partners LLP commented:”Abacus is a fantastic business that has suffered largely as a result of an underfunded pension liability that has drained its resources. The core business has always been profitable and provides a great platform for us to focus on Abacus’s strengths of product innovation and quality lighting solutions.”

Dominic Wong, partner at Deloitte, commented on the sale: “We have been engaged to sell the business since December 2012. Abacus is a leading name in lighting and attracted a huge amount of interest, but ultimately this transaction provides the best outcome for creditors including the c150 UK employees who transferred to the new business.”