West law firm Thrings – which has its largest office in Swindon – has advised the shareholders of Wiltshire-based fuel distribution business Watson on its £117m sale to a major US group.
As revealed by Swindon Business News a week ago, family-owned Watson, which began trading in 1957 and now has nearly 50 depots across the UK, has been acquired by New York Stock Exchange-quoted World Fuel Services Corporation, one of the largest global fuel logistics companies in the world.
The deal is the latest stage in the relationship between Thrings and Watson, based at Brinkworth, near Royal Wootton Bassett, that dates back to the company’s launch and, in the past decade, has included the acquisition of more than 20 UK fuel distribution businesses.
Now Thrings’ Swindon-based team, led by senior corporate partner John Davies, pictured, and associate solicitor Simon Hore, worked closely with Watson’s owners on all strategic and legal matters of the company’s sale. Corporate finance advice was provided by accountants Grant Thornton’s Bristol office.
Mr Davies said: “Thrings has enjoyed a close working relationship with Watson Petroleum for almost six decades.
“I have taken great pleasure working alongside managing director Tony Watson and his team on the acquisition of more than 20 businesses throughout the UK. During that time our focus has remained on consistently providing a first-class standard of legal advice.
“This deal was no exception and we are delighted to have successfully negotiated the legal complexities which helped bring matters to a positive conclusion for all parties. We are extremely proud of our association with Watson Petroleum, and wish the company and its employees all the very best during this exciting period and beyond.”
Watson, which employs 670 staff, supplies commercial fuels and industrial lubricants throughout the UK via its network of 45 depots and approved suppliers. Under the terms of the deal, Tony Watson will remain as managing director while also overseeing all World Fuel land distribution businesses in the UK.
Mr Watson said: “World Fuel Services is one of the world’s largest global fuel logistics companies, and was recently ranked 74th in the Fortune 500. Recognising its extensive capabilities, breadth of products and services and solid financial foundation, we felt the acquisition would present us with a significant strategic opportunity to expand our product and service offering, accelerate plans to develop our distribution network and offer our clients and staff a clear and exciting future.
“But none of this would be possible without the deal being finalised, and our relationship with Thrings during the entire process was fundamental to its eventual success.
“John and Simon were thorough, meticulous and demonstrated great commercial awareness at every stage, as well as being friendly and extremely easy to deal with. I can always rely on John and his team to provide a first-class service and a level of discretion which cannot be underestimated.
“Over the past 60 years, we have come to view Thrings as a firm which shares our values and focus on clients and are delighted to have had such a long and prosperous association with them.”
The acquisition of Watson Petroleum by World Fuel Services is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to complete within 60 days.