3 Cockspur Street
London, SW1Y 5BQ
Telephone: (44) 20 7321-0123
Fax: (44) 20 7839-2072
Web site: http://www.hunting.plc.uk
Sales: £1.25 billion ($2.41 billion) (2004)
Stock Exchanges: London
Ticker Symbol: HTG
NAIC: 422710 Petroleum Bulk Stations & Terminals; 333319 Other Commercial and Service Industry Machinery Manufacturing; 213111 Drilling Oil and Gas Wells; 213112 Support Activities for Oil and Gas Field Exploration
Hunting plc is one of the world's leading providers of specialist services to the oil and gas industry. The London-based company is a leading supplier of tubular goods, particularly for the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas exploration markets, and is the world's top supplier of oil platform accessories. Hunting is the world's leading—and oldest—oil and gas tanker broker. The company, through subsidiary Gibson Energy Ltd., is also involved in oil and gas marketing and distribution, moving more than 90 billion barrels of oil and gas per year, and operating more than 260 miles of pipeline, 27 terminals, and storage facilities with a capacity of some two million barrels. These operations, which generate nearly 70 percent of group sales, are focused in large part on the Canadian market. Hunting is also Canada's second largest retailer of propane gas, with a capacity of more than 200 million liters per year. Hunting has long held direct interests in the oil and gas exploration and drilling markets, with production focused primarily in the southern United States and in the Gulf of Mexico. Another Hunting division produces drill rods for fiber optics and other communications applications. Into the mid-2000s, Hunting successfully completed a streamlining effort, which saw it shed most of its diversified operations in order to focus more tightly on the energy services market. Nonetheless, the company maintains a strong international presence, with operations in some 100 countries. Listed on the London Stock Exchange, Hunting is controlled by the founding Hunting family, which owns nearly 30 percent of the group's stock. The family is represented by Chairman Richard H. Hunting. Day-to-day operations are overseen by Chief Executive Dennis L. Proctor. In 2004, Hunting produced revenues of more than £1.25 billion ($2.4 billion).
OIL TRANSPORT PIONEER IN THE 19TH CENTURY
The Hunting family was one of the pioneers of the international petroleum trade, becoming one of the first in the world to recognize the future importance of petroleum-based fuels, and particularly the need to provide specialized transportation for crude and refined oil products. The Hunting family's interest in the ship-ping industry itself dated to 1874, when Charles Hunting founded his own shipping firm in England. Hunting's son, Charles Samuel Hunting, is credited with steering the family company into the oil business. The younger Hunting spent a good deal of time traveling about the world in order to research the nascent oil industry. Hunting's interests led him to pursue various investments, including exploring for oil in Russia, establishing London's first oil refinery. Hunting's interest soon turned to the newly developing oil market in the Gulf of Mexico. These interests led the Hunting family to invest in a new, specialized shipping vessel, and in the 1890s, the Hunting company became one of the first in the world to feature dedicated oil tankers in its fleet.
Into the early part of the 20th century, Hunting, later joined by sons Percy and Lindsay, built up one of the world's largest independently operated fleets of oil tankers. The outbreak of World War I cut short the family-owned company's expansion, however. By the end of the war, most of the company's fleet had been destroyed. Into the 1920s, Hunting was forced to rebuild, now under the leadership of Percy Hunting. During that period, the company entered the tanker brokering business as well, acquiring Gibsons. That operation, founded around the start of the 20th century, was initially meant to provide fixing and handling services to Hunting's own fleet. Before long, however, Hunting Gibsons emerged as a world-leading broker for the oil and gas markets, and also helped establish Hunting as a major player in the energy services market.
Through the 1930s, Hunting explored new areas of operations. The aviation sector appeared to be a natural extension for the company, and by the end of the decade Hunting had established itself as an internationally known name in aircraft manufacture. The company specialized in building small, wooden-frame aircraft, and developed a number of its own aircraft designs, such as the Proctor, and the BAC 1-11, which became one of the top-selling British aircraft internationally. The company's aircraft manufacturing operations played a major role in the British military effort during World War II. In addition to production of its own designs, Hunting also produced a number of third-party designs, such as the Mosquito and the Oxfords. By the end of the war, the company had boosted its aircraft division, acquiring Percival Aircraft Ltd. in 1944. That purchase also gave the company a small Canadian subsidiary. In the meantime, Hunting also had launched its own aviation operation, notably providing aerial survey services.
Hunting recognized a new opportunity in the immediate postwar years, that of offering air transportation services. As such, the company became one of the first independent British companies to offer civilian passenger transport in the second half of the 1940s. Hunting Air Transport quickly built up a fleet of aircraft, including eight Viking aircraft, and became one of the United Kingdom's major domestic carriers by the early 1950s, flying nearly 60,000 passengers per year. The company also added international flights, notably between London and South, Central, and East Africa. Into the 1950s, Hunting also began offering direct flights between the United Kingdom and destinations on the European continent. As an offshoot, the company became a ticketing agent. In 1947 and 1948, for example, the company worked with the Canadian government to arrange flights for some 8,000 people emigrating to Canada in the aftermath of World War II. The company formally launched a dedicated ticketing subsidiary in 1952.
The Hunting community is committed to the protection of the environment no matter where in the world we operate. We aim to use renewable resources wherever possible and develop manufacturing processes and procedures such that any impact on the environment, if any, is reduced to a practicable minimum. We take the view that sustainable development is in the interests of all our stakeholders and include environmental issues in our planning and decision-making. Policy is developed at a corporate level and encourages each operating unit to: Develop and implement their own procedures whilst conducting regular reviews to ensure that they are maintained and refined; Reduce waste, emissions and promote the use of recycled materials; Pay special regard to the environmental issues and requirements of the communities and locations in which we work and live; Be involved in and understand the particular environmental issues relating to the industry in which we operate; Promote employee awareness of their own responsibilities and encourage participation in voluntary environmental projects.
By then, too, Hunting had decided to convert its aircraft production from wood-frame construction to new all-metal designs, including company-developed Prince aircraft for civilian transport. That design also was adapted for use in military applications, notably for the Royal Air Force at home, and for a number of foreign air forces. The Prince also was redeveloped as the Sea Prince for the Royal Navy. Concurrent with the growth of its aircraft manufacturing operation, Hunting built up an aircraft maintenance arm, under the Field Aircraft Services name. That company also added subsidiaries in Canada, South Africa, and Rhodesia. At first focused on Hunting's own air transport operations, Field soon began providing services to other airlines, such as the British European Airways, as well as a contract to overhaul the United States Air Force's European-based Dakota fleet.
Meanwhile, Hunting had continued building its operations in the oil industry. In 1951, the company expanded into the Canadian oil marketing and distribution market, establishing Gibson Petroleum Marketing. That company grew into one of Canada's largest distributors of oil and gas, operating pipelines, terminals, and storage facilities. Gibson Energy also established itself as one of the country's top retailers of propane gas. Elsewhere, Hunting's oil and gas exploration efforts had paid off with the launch of production of crude oil in Texas and Arkansas. The company also found a way to combine its two primary markets of energy services and aviation, more or less creating a new field of geophysical prospecting. That business was based on the company's earlier aerial survey operations, which into the 1950s extended throughout the British Commonwealth, and included subsidiaries in London, East Africa, Canada, Pakistan, South Africa, and Rhodesia, as well as partnerships in Australia and New Zealand. With a fleet of more than 38 aircraft, Hunting emerged as a leading provider of aerial services. In the early 1950s, the company's Canadian operations pioneered the use of aircraft in geophysical prospecting. Hunting recognized the importance of this field, particularly given the global population explosion into the second half of the century, and the need to develop new resources to support this population. As such, Hunting rolled out its geophysical prospecting operations onto an international scale, with the creation of a dedicated subsidiary, Hunting Geophysics, in 1953.
By the end of the 1950s, Hunting also had begun to look beyond its core businesses for growth. In 1957, for example, the company decided to extend its engineering expertise into the growing field of heating and ventilation, forming a new subsidiary Hunting Mhoglas. By the early 1960s, the company had expanded into plastics manufacturing as well, and in 1962 the company created a new subsidiary, Hunting Light Industries, to contain its various diversified engineering and plastics businesses. Other operations grouped under Hunting Light Industries included the Field Aircraft Services group, including its African subsidiaries. The Hunting group itself was by then controlled by Pat Hunting, son of Percy Hunting.
- Charles Hunting establishes a shipping business in England.
- Percival Aircraft manufacturing operations are acquired.
- The company launches Hunting Geophysics Ltd., pioneering the aerial geophysical prospecting market.
- The company diversifies into heating and air conditioning engineering.
- After further diversification, such as in plastics manufacturing, the company launches Hunting Light Industries.
- The company begins providing services to the North Sea offshore oil industry.
- The Hunting family merges its three publicly listed holdings into a single publicly listed entity, Hunting PLC.
- Hunting exits the aviation market.
- Hunting exits the defense market and completes the disposal of its diversified operations to become a focused energy services group; the company acquires Thread Tech Energy Systems, and Columbia Fuels, both in Canada, as part of an acquisition drive to boost energy services operations.
- Roforge in France, which supplies valves to global energy industries, is acquired.
- The company acquires Cromar Ltd. based in Aberdeen, with subsidiaries in Houston and Singapore, which provides services and equipment to the energy market.
Hunting increasingly sought outside capital to fuel its expansion, giving rise to a fairly complex organization—by the end of the 1960s, the Hunting family's interests were represented by three publicly listed companies, each of which also maintained significant shareholdings in the others. During the 1960s, the company also began retailing petroleum products, especially in Canada, where it became one of the market leaders. This was especially true in the retail distribution of propane gas; by the end of the century, Hunting claimed the number two spot in the Canadian market for this segment.
RESTRUCTURED AND STREAMLINED FOR THE NEW CENTURY
Hunting added a new service component in the 1960s when it began providing drilling equipment and support services to the North Sea offshore oil industry. That operation was launched as a joint venture, Hunting Barnard Oilfield Services, in 1967, controlled at 60 percent by Hunting. This business, which later came under full ownership by Hunting, became a significant part of Hunting's operations into the 2000s.
Into the 1980s, the Hunting group of businesses included the three public companies, Hunting Gibson, Hunting Associated Industries, and Hunting Petroleum Services. Under the leadership of Clive Hunting, the company began to streamline its rather complex ownership structure. In 1985, for example, Hunting Gibson acquired the Hunting Group, which had remained the Hunting family's private investment vehicle for its controlling stakes in the three publicly listed companies. By 1989, Hunting had completed its reorganization, merging the three publicly listed companies under a single publicly listed entity, Hunting plc. Following the restructuring, the Hunting family's control of the company was reduced to just 30 percent. At the same time, the family stepped down from direct oversight of the company's operations, instead taking up the chairman's position, first under Clive Hunting, and then, into the 2000s, under Richard Hunting.
Hunting's exposure to the defense and aviation industries left the company vulnerable in the early 1990s. The collapse of the Soviet empire and the end of the Cold War caused a dropoff in defense spending around the world. The outbreak of war in the Persian Gulf also led to a downturn in the aviation industry. Pressure on these operations continued throughout the decade, and by the late 1990s Hunting had decided to abandon the aviation business, selling off its aviation holdings by 1999.
Hunting's reorganization continued into the first half of the 2000s, which saw the company exit most of its defense operations in 2001 and the disposal of most of its other diversified businesses, such as operations in automobile parts manufacturing. In this way, the company transformed itself from a diversified "miniconglomerate" into a company dedicated to the energy services market. As such, the company launched a series of acquisitions into the mid-2000s. In 1998, for example, the company acquired Landell Industries, which expanded Hunting's position in the Gulf of Mexico market.
In 2001, Hunting acquired two Canadian oil services companies, Thread Tech Energy Systems and Columbia Fuels. The former provided oilfield tubulars and connections, while the latter focused on propane equipment supply and services, in large part on Vancouver Island. Other acquisitions followed, including 2002's purchase of Roforge, in France, which manufactured steel valves for the global energy, refining, and petrochemical industries. In 2005, the company added operations in Aberdeen, Houston, and Singapore through its purchase of Cromar Ltd. The addition of Cromar expanded Hunting's energy services profile, adding new areas such as a wireline pressure control, perforating tools, and other specialized equipment. Hunting continued to build on its heritage as one of the world's oldest and leading providers of services to the international energy industry.
Aero Sekur S.p.A. (Italy); Canwest Propane Ltd. (Canada); E. A. Gibson Shipbrokers Limited (England & Hong Kong); Gibson Crude Oil Purchasing Co. Ltd. (Canada); Gibson Energy Ltd. (Canada); Hunting Airtrust Tubulars Pte Limited (China and Singapore; 50%); Hunting Energy France S.A.; Hunting Energy Services (International) Ltd.; Hunting Energy Services Holdings Inc. (United States); Hunting Oilfield Services (International) Pte Ltd. (Singapore); Hunting Oilfield Services (UK) Ltd.; Hunting Performance Inc. (United States); Hunting Pipeline Services LLC (United States); Hunting Specialised Products Limited; INTERPEC SAS (France); Larco SAS (France); Moose Jaw Asphalt Inc. (Canada); Roforge SAS (France); Tenkay Resources Inc. (United States).
Baker Hughes UK Ltd.; Kvaerner E and C plc; Canadian Superior Energy Inc.; M. W. Kellogg Ltd.; Paladin Resources plc; Expro International Group plc; Saipem (UK) Ltd.; Halcrow Group Ltd.; SLP Engineering.
"Hunting Buys Two Canadian Firms," Daily Deal, December 6, 2001.
"Hunting Plc Combines Three US Entities As Hunting Energy Services LP," Petroleum Finance Week, February 11, 2002.
"Hunting Plc," Oil and Gas Journal, March 4, 2002, p. 91.