Posted on: 28 March 2023
Idwal Marine Services (Idwal), a leading provider of inspection services for the global commercial shipping sector, has secured a significant investment from private equity partner LDC to support the development of its proprietary technology platform and expand its global service footprint.
Based in Cardiff, Idwal provides vessel condition and integrity inspection services, fleet monitoring and data services for customers across the marine industry. Its services are used by ship owners, brokers, ship operators, flag states, investors and other financial stakeholders when evaluating investments or divestments in marine assets and when assessing the condition of vessels and fleets.
The business was originally founded as a division of Graig Shipping PLC in 2010. With its investment and support, Idwal has grown quickly under CEO Nick Owens due to increased demand from its global customers and its focus on consistency, integrity and data-led inspections in the global maritime sector. Its Idwal Grade® asset condition rating enables sector peer-group benchmarking and has become a recognised standard in the industry,
The business, a certified carbon neutral organisation, was the first in the industry to include both decarbonisation metrics and crew welfare and working condition data in their reports. It is also focused on the provision of advanced ESG reporting to ensure that its customers are meeting increasingly stringent sector wide environmental reporting requirements.
With LDC’s support, Idwal’s management team will further develop the platform, data and service provision and expand its network of overseas offices, which already includes China, Greece and Japan.
Graig, a 100-year-old UK based entrepreneurial global shipping group, specialises in structuring, advising and leading investments in services and shipping assets in the international marine market. The company said Idwal was a further example of the group’s successful track-record of developing “best in class” marine based business innovations and ventures.
Graig is best known for its innovative Diamond dry bulk new building series, which it contracted in the 2000s, placing 86 vessel contracts across six shipyards in Asia.
Graig said it was already “well-advanced” in its next maritime venture to bring to the market high quality, environmentally friendly Service Operation Vessels for the rapidly growing global offshore wind and renewables sector, working with its global partners.
LDC’s investment was led by Dewi Hughes, Oliver Schofield and James Garland from its Wales & South West team. Dewi Hughes and Oliver Schofield will join the Board.
As part of the investment, Gehan Talwatte, an experienced chairman of several high-growth, private equity backed companies in the data services sector – including maritime data, insight and intelligence business Lloyd’s List Intelligence – has been appointed Non-Executive Chairman of Idwal.
Simon Morse, an experienced senior shipping executive with extensive marine services and private equity board expertise, has been appointed Non-Executive Director. He is the former CEO of Inchcape Shipping Services and a Past President of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers.
Nick Owens, CEO of Idwal, said: “This is the ideal outcome for both Idwal and Graig, as well as our customers and colleagues. As an independent company with the support of LDC, Idwal is strongly positioned to increase investment in its services and its international presence.”
Commenting on its partnership, he added: “The LDC team were exactly what we were looking for. Their local presence and successful track record in helping technology businesses develop and scale made them the ideal partner to support our growth plans.”
Hugh Williams, CEO of Graig, said: “Idwal has grown from a new service to a genuine leader in its field with significant potential. For us, this was an intentional next step for Idwal and is part of Graig’s strategy to refocus the business on its core shipping investments and with the fast-growing offshore renewables sector. We look forward to continuing to partner with Idwal in our markets.”
Dewi Hughes, Partner and Head of LDC’s South West & Wales team, said: “Nick and the team have successfully built Idwal into a globally respected business with a reputation for sustainable and innovative services in an evolving marketplace. Now, with the opportunity to further develop its technology platform and further penetrate overseas markets, they will be able to fulfil their ambition to make Idwal the global leader and the Idwal Grade the pre-eminent standard in the international commercial shipping market.”
LDC was advised by KPMG (corporate finance), Blake Morgan (legals), OC&C (commercial due diligence), BDO (financial due diligence) and EY (tax). The management team was advised by Lexington (finance) and Capital Law (legals).
Graig was advised by Stout (corporate finance) and Taylor Wessing (legals).