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Billionaire US philanthropist rescues Scottish tech firm



Livingston firm WFS technologies has been bought out of administration by a foundation owned by billionaire US philanthropist George Kaiser.

The subsea wi-fi specialist was dependent on clients in the oil & gas industry and the sharp fall in energy prices this year exacerbated ongoing financial struggles.

Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden of KPMG were appointed joint administrators on July 16 and immediately sold all of its assets to GKFF EnNovo, part of the George Kaiser Family Foundation based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The business will continue to operate in Livingston as CSignum and GKFF EnNovo has committed to investing millions of pounds in product development and to secure the future of jobs there.

Kaiser inherited his father’s oil & gas company in 1969 and went on to buy the Bank of Oklahoma, which he built into the BOK Financial Corporation. He is a part-owner of Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball team and his George Kaiser Family Foundation funds projects to help children out of poverty.

In 2008, he was listed by Forbes as the 20th richest person in the world but was this year ranked at 286 with a net worth of around $4.9 billion.

WFS, which was established in 2003 by Brendan Hyland, produces internet-enabled wireless devices capable of monitoring energy infrastructure in deep sea conditions. The costs of research and development had resulted in deepening losses amid slow sales growth.

Its directors appointed administrators after they were unable to find new investment. In March, GKFF Enovo agreed to lend WFS up to £3 million in a floating charge registered at Companies House.

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Hyland has been replaced as chief executive by Peter Sharpe, a former executive of US engineering giant Jacobs, who has experience of the oil & gas industry.

Nimmo said: “We are delighted to have successfully completed a sale to GKFF EnNovo, protecting 19 jobs and safeguarding the technology and intellectual property developed. GKFF EnNovo are committed to the future success of the business and this acquisition will provide the new owners with a fantastic base from which to drive CSignum forward. I wish them every success for the future.”

Sharpe said: “We are pleased to have secured the new funding package from GKFF EnNovo.  This opens up exciting opportunities and we are looking forward to growing the business, expanding our product range and continuing to deliver innovate solutions for our customers.”



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