|CSE Global's business, as its name suggests, is global. Currently, it operates principally in the US, Australia and Singapore.
Inorganic growth is a key part of its growth strategy -- which makes sense because it takes a long time to start a business from nothing to something significant in foreign lands.
So far this year, CSE has made three acquisitions and announced a fourth.
Based in Houston, Volta LLC designs and fabricates large-scale electrical equipment centers for the oil & gas industry.
The purchase consideration is US$25.1 million (S$34.8 million) cash, as announced on 2 Sept 2019.
The proposed acquisition is highly accretive: In 1H2019, Volta recorded US$5.9 million (S$8.3 million) net profit while CSE achieved S$12.6 million.
Given the relative significance of Volta to CSE's earnings, questions arose at the 3Q19 results briefing: How will CSE ensure that Volta management continues to perform? Are they tied down?
The questions were posed by Linus Loo, an analyst at Lim & Tan Securities.
CSE's MD, Lim Boon Kheng, said Volta's controlling shareholder and founder is 68 years old and has indicated he would work a few more years and then semi-retire.
The management team of Volta is expected to integrate well with the management of the direct acquirer, which is a 100%-owned subsidiary of CSE in Houston.
Mr Lim added that Volta's business is complementary to CSE's and CSE is familiar with the management: "Sometimes in the past we have been their customer, and sometimes we have been their supplier."
As a team, they will bid for bigger jobs, tapping on each other's strengths.
CSE non-executive chairman, Lim Ming Seong, sharing more insights, said by selling his business, Volta's controlling shareholder looked forward to being relieved of the burden of his personal guarantee to his bankers.
With CSE as the owner, Volta would be able to pursue bigger projects that it would otherwise not consider given the risks, or larger financing, that the boss is averse to because of personal circumstances.
The Volta staff are happy with the change of ownership as it means more projects are potentially in the works, and it's not a private equity firm taking over and embarking on cost-cutting measures as is the nature of PE firms, said Mr Lim.
Added Mr Lim: "When we acquire a company, we don't tie the management down. Unlike other acquirers, we don't send over our own people to be CEO or finance manager, or anyone to keep an eye on things.
"Instead we lend them support and let them continue to run things. We give incentives, bonuses, and tell them to go and make more money. That's the CSE philosophy all these years."
CSE management didn't say it but presumably they intensely weigh the qualities -- character, capabilities, passion, etc -- of the management of target companies.
And if they fail? "If they fail, I fire them," said Mr Lim Ming Seong.
|For CSE's announcement on Volta acquisition, click here.
For analysts' take on 3Q performance, see: CSE: Higher order book to drive earnings for FY20F and beyond