Langley Holdings, an engineering and construction company based in Nottinghamshire, UK, bought crawler crane manufacturer R-B International as a going concern on 22 December 2000.

Negotiations with Langley chief executive Tony Langley were reopened in November after a deal with preferred bidder Danny Davis, the former Favelle Favco Cranes (USA) president, broke down in the last stages. R-B was purchased from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) which was charged with selling the business after the former owners put the company into administration.

R-B’s head office and manufacturing facility in Lincoln closes down on 12 January and the company’s operations are to be relocated to Retford and Gainsborough.

On 21 December, the day before closing on the R-B purchase, Langley also agreed a deal to buy the UK materials handling business of aero-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. The deal includes, inter alia, Clarke Chapman which is best known as a dockside crane manufacturer. Clarke Chapman also supplies crane systems for a range of sectors including nuclear, ports, offshore platforms, steel producers and railways through its Wellman Booth, Stothert & Pitt and Cowans Sheldon divisions. The business also undertakes facilities management contracts at ports, naval dockyards and industrial locations around the UK and overseas.

The sale does not include the Clarke Chapman Marine business, which supplies deck machinery and replenishment at sea systems. That business remains as part of the marine business of Rolls-Royce.

In March 2000 Rolls-Royce announced that its materials handling businesses were to be sold or closed. The disposal process, which has involved site closures outside the UK, is substantially concluded by this sale.

The administrators of R-B International, PWC, described the struggle they had securing a deal for R-B. Richard Rees, a partner at PWC, said: “Securing the future of R-B International has been a long, hard struggle. We had expected to have sold this business during October, but had considerable difficulties in dealing with prospective purchasers from overseas. In the end the best offer came from the Langley Group, which is UK based and was able to rescue the situation when it looked as if a sale was not going to be achievable.

“After the initial redundancies, we have retained the whole of the workforce of 30 employees at the Lincoln site. We have started and completed during this administration the manufacture of a 50 tonne crane for a UK customer, and it was this order that allowed trading to continue. In the meantime spares and field service sales continued as normal.

“After being let down by overseas buyers, we are delighted to have found a UK rescuer for the business, and this will hopefully preserve jobs in the UK”.

Tony Langley, of Langley Holdings said: “R-B has a worldwide reputation for quality and design, and we are delighted with the acquisition. The company will become part of our Clarke Chapman group and sits very well with the Stothert & Pitt, Wellman Booth and Cowans Sheldon crane businesses in that group. We will be transferring the R-B business to our Retford and Gainsborough facilities and most of the employees have been offered employment there. R-B has had a tough time recently and now we aim to bring stability to it.” Langley Holdings employs over 700 people at its sites in Nottinghamshire and the North East and its offices in Leeds and Bath. It is a diverse engineering manufacturing concern with sales of between £55m and £60m ($80-$90m) expected in 2001.