In April 2008, Inflexion backed subsea vehicle maker SMD to support its international growth and digital enhancement. The business was subsequently purchased by Hong Kong-listed Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric Company Limited valuing it at £120m and generating a 2.2x return on investment.

  • Sector


  • Headquarters

    Wallsend, UK

  • Fund


  • Investment date

    April 2008 - April 2015

  • Status



The company

SMD’s unmanned submarines, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and engineering trenching equipment provide subsea intervention work in depths and conditions that are inaccessible for human divers. Established in 1971, the company dominates the market for subsea vehicles. SMD supplies the oil and gas sector, as well as the telecoms, renewable energy, mining and defence industries by delivering bespoke equipment.

The Inflexion investment

Inflexion led the management buyout of SMD in 2008 to allow the founder to refocus away from management and more on product innovation.

The Inflexion difference

Shortly after the deal, we bolstered the management team to allow the founder to step back and focus more on cutting-edge product development. We then worked closely with this team to open a second UK factory, thereby increasing manufacturing capacity. We leveraged our experience in internationalising businesses to open sales offices in Singapore, the US and Brazil, thereby establishing a firmer presence in these growth markets. We also created a Digital Service Platform providing an intelligent spare parts and servicing model to optimise the operational effectiveness of ROVs and facilitate future ancillary earnings through monetising the data captured by the them.

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