HURST Help Otto Simon Holdings Become Employee-Owned

Posted: Dec 4, 2019
Nigel Barratt

An engineering consultancy with 170 staff has become employee-owned following a transaction on which a team at HURST advised. Otto Simon Holdings is a £20m-turnover business with its headquarters in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, and operations in Stalybridge, Rotherham and Forfar.


The group, founded in 2004, provides design and build, project management, operation and maintenance and manufacturing services to global customers in the steel, petrochemical and renewable energy sectors. Steve Haywood, the group’s co-founder and chairman, acquired full control of the company in 2008, when its annual turnover was just £2m.

Since then Otto Simon has grown organically by expanding its global customer base and by diversifying into emerging sectors such as waste-to-energy and biofuels, as well as through two acquisitions. 

Steve has now transferred his shares to an employee ownership trust.

The day-to-day running of the Otto Simon group of companies will now be led by the directors of its four divisions, Chris Bridgland, Nick Shaw, Richard Buckley and Gary McCombie.

Steve was advised by a team of corporate finance and tax experts at HURST led by Nigel Barratt, partner and head of HURST Corporate Finance, and Liz Gallagher of the tax team.

Otto Simon engineers at a gas-fed fermentation process plant in Wilton Teesside (1024x683)

Employee ownership trusts were introduced by the government in 2014 and HURST has a specialist team to advise companies on their creation.

Our team recently advised Warrington-based Building Technology Systems on its sale by owners Graham Spark and Dean Brookes to an EOT.

Other EOT transactions in the north west on which HURST has advised include ones at recruitment and payroll services company Kinetic and coatings business Northpoint.

Nigel said: “I advised Steve in 2008 and helped with the subsequent acquisitions. It’s really pleasing to see the latest transaction conclude his long-held ambition for the company.”

Rob Loveday of Manchester law firm LLM Solicitors provided legal advice. He said: “We are delighted to have helped Steve and his team take the company to this new and exciting stage in its development.”

Steve said: “My view has been that employee ownership would be the best way of preserving our culture and ethos when the time came for me to step down. “We have created a great team to ensure that the business has strong foundations for future growth and I know it is in safe hands.”

He added: “I have had great advice from Nigel and Rob over the years and I really appreciate HURST and LLM supporting us through a highly-complex transaction with great skill and professionalism.”

If you would like to discuss employee ownership as part of your succession planning, feel free to contact a member of our team either by clicking here or by calling 0161 477 2474