April 2, 2019
Headquartered in Birtley, County Durham, with subsidiaries in Glasgow and Birmingham, Midland Steel Traders (MST) is a longstanding business that specialises in the supply of parts for earthmoving and construction machinery, as well as their service and repairs. It was founded in 1963 by Ken Whitehall, and has grown to become a market leader, currently boasting over eighty employees across three service workshops and two manufacturing centres, located throughout the UK.
MST was acquired by USCO, which has maintained a strong trading relationship with the business for many years. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Modena, Italy, the organisation manufactures and distributes an extensive range of undercarriage, ground engaging tools, and repair parts for construction earthmoving machines, through its world-wide recognised brand ITR. USCO currently employs approximately 1600 employees across six manufacturing centres and 40 distribution and service centres, in continents including North America, Europe and Asia.
Rory Whitehall, managing director of MST, says: “We are looking forward to working as part of a world-beating organisation, so that we can continue to provide the very best service, support and innovation to all of our customers.
“It will give MST and our customers access to powerful new resources, which will allow us to further invest in the organisation and achieve our full potential.”
In a deal led by UNW LLP and Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP (WBD), the sale of MST completed in February 2019.
John Whitehall will continue with the organisation in a new role as group consultant, while his nephew, Rory Whitehall, will succeed him as managing director.
UNW’s corporate finance team was led by Paul Kaiser, (partner), alongside Stephanie Davidson, (manager) and Jacob Mathew, (executive) while WBD’s corporate team was led by Will Bonas, (managing associate), alongside Ben Butler, (partner) and David Ridley, (solicitor).
Stephanie Davidson, of UNW, says: “As one of our longstanding clients, we are thrilled to have overseen the acquisition of MST by an organisation that will give them a global platform.
“The deal is representative of the ambition and drive of businesses across the North East, and we look forward to seeing their continued growth in the future.”
Will Bonas, of WBD, adds: “This deal continues to demonstrate our strong commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs and business owners in the North East, where we are heavily invested as a business.”
Paul Whitehall, a founding member of MST and retiring chairman and shareholder, says: “This is an important deal for the future of MST, and we wish the business every success under the ongoing management team of Rory Whitehall, Alan Montgomery and Nick Fagandini, and in the hands of its new owner.
“We were really impressed by the expertise, professionalism, and hard work carried out by both teams at UNW and WBD. “We are grateful to them for the high quality of services provided.”
Massimo Galassini, USCO’s CEO and controlling shareholder, adds: “We are proud of the acquisition of MST, our historical undercarriage components dealer in the UK. We are grateful to Paul and John for their great job and we welcome MST’s top management and employees. We are confident they will continue creating significant value for all the company stakeholders. We firmly believe that this transaction represents a further step in the development of our global footprint as well as in the consolidation of the USCO Group position as a recognised world-wide leader.”
USCO were advised by Eidos Partners, with legal advice provided by Simmons & Simmons, and financial due diligence provided by BDO.
Photo, left to right: Ben Butler (WBD), Jacob Mathew (UNW), Rory Whitehall (MST), David Ridley (WBD), Stephanie Davidson (UNW), Alan Montgomery (MST), John Whitehall (MST), Will Bonas (WBD), Paul Whitehall (MST) and Nick Fagandini (MST)