Norwich-based oil and gas industry service company Acteon Group has seen a change of ownership, after its majority stake has been bought by a US investment firm in the latest sign of confidence in the energy sector in the region.

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New York-based Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P (KRR) has acquired the stake from specialist energy private equity firm First Reserve in an undisclosed deal.

Acteon, which employs almost 2,000 staff globally but has its holding company and three other businesses in Norfolk, would not talk specifically about the impact the deal will have on employees in the region.

But the group, which has built a subsea services business, said in a statement yesterday that the latest investment would support its ambitions to “define the market” which it said was a relatively new and expanding part of the energy industry. First Reserve took a stake in Acteon in 2006 and since then has made eight acquisitions and quadrupled the group’s operating profits.

It has also expanded its international footprint and it now has facilities in Brazil, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, China, UK, the US and Germany.

The group includes Norwich-based InterAct and Team Energy Resources and Great Yarmouth-based Claxton Engineering.

The acquisition comes just months after Great Yarmouth-based Seajacks, which supplies jack-up vessels for the offshore energy industry, was bought by two Japanese firms in March.

The also undisclosed deal saw ownership of the company transfer from former BP chief executive Lord Browne’s Riverstone Holdings LLC to one of the largest Japanese trading companies Marubeni Coporation and government-backed private equity firm Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ).

Simon Gray, chief executive of regional energy industry body EEEGR, said: “I think this is an indication that this is one of the few industries that is stimulating some movement in the market, both nationally and internationally.”

He said that some companies viewed sterling and the UK as safe compared to other markets.

In a joint statement director and member of KRR Josselin de Roquemaurel and Dominic Murphy, said: “This is a growth investment, in partnership with a highly entrepreneurial management team.”

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