Saturday, November 18, 2006

Speculators Could Drive Uranium to $55/Pound

TradeTech LLC Chief Executive Gene Clark talked with StockInterview about the uranium bull market, where his price models show uranium prices heading and when to expect the peak of the current upward cycle of the bull market. When will “hard” times again hit the uranium market, and how long will the trough last? And what does the future hold for the uranium price? An industry insider gives us his insights.

StockInterview: When the uranium bull market began, did you foresee $40/pound uranium, now that the spot price has risen above this level?

Gene Clark: I don’t think any of us saw $40 per pound coming. We had price projections at the time that indicated probably $25 per pound, which would be a long term equilibrium price in constant dollar terms. But, I think it was a surprise the price went up so high. I think what’s going, the biggest factor right now, is the advent of the so called hedge funds or speculator funds and other such groups. The price started to go up, and they came into the market with the express purpose of buying for holding and then selling into the market later to realize the trading profit. In 2005, the hedge funds were responsible for purchasing about 10 million pounds of the 29 million pounds purchased. I think the market is now finally adjusting to the realities of primary supply and demand. It’s been a depressed market for 20 or 30 years, primarily from the draw down of excess inventories, and what we call secondary supply.

StockInterview: Will the speculators remain active in driving the spot uranium price higher?

Gene Clark: I think there is still some room for further speculation activity. Uranium Participation Corporation, for example, is rumored to be about to come to the equities market again to raise funds for another purchase. They’re asking for authority to buy UF6, as well as U308, and different forms of uranium than they were locked into before. Whether it be at the 10 million pound level (size of purchase), I think it kind of depends on where the market goes. If it tends to flatten out, then I think there’s going to be obviously less interest on their part. When they were active in the market, they, of course, wanted the price to go up. Therefore, they weren’t too careful about what they paid for uranium. I think that’s a part of it. In the long run, it was due for a readjustment to reflect prices of the cost of new production facilities. But, the hedge funds came in and overdrove the market. Eventually, what it’s going to wind up doing is, if they sell off, it could have the impact of driving prices back down below where they would otherwise have gone.

StockInterview: Did the speculators interfere with the trading efficiency of the uranium market?

Gene Clark: In theory, speculators come in, tend to take the risk and smooth out market prices. But, it never really works out that way. They always come in and only take the risk, if there’s an opportunity to make money. So some people make a lot of money. It does tend to upset the market. If you get away from the primary users of uranium and primary producers of uranium as your market participants, then you tend to introduce more noise than you would like.

Cleveland Schools Career Fields Program

Cleveland Schools Aims to Help Students Prepare for Life After High School

All Cleveland Schools high schools have developed the Career Fields path of study to help students choose and succeed in higher education, work, and life after high school. The Career Fields places occupations into paths that share common skills. This allows teachers and students to combine educational study with more technical instruction. The six career paths chosen by Cleveland Schools are: Arts and Communications, Business and Management & Information Technology, Environmental and Agricultural Systems, Health Services, Human Resources/ Services, and Industrial and Engineering Systems. Following an educational path allows students to plan for a career after high school or a two-year technical or associate degree, or a four-year college degree. Cleveland Schools’ Career Fields provides the elective courses, in addition to the core requirements that will prepare them for the career of their choice.

Each Career Field is a part of a Career Pathway Certificate Programs, the only difference between these and the regular high school curriculum is that Career Pathway students may enter the workforce immediately after graduation from high school. When entering the ninth grade in the Cleveland Schools students can choose to enter the Individual Career Plan. This allows students in the Cleveland Schools to have a greater understanding of who they are, have a potential career path that is grounded in their personal skills and interests, and put together an educational plan in high school that will help them achieve their dream of a successful career.

The Six Career Pathways in the Cleveland Schools Career Fields Program

The Arts and Communications Career Field focuses on those careers that pertain to the arts in some way. Such job opportunities in the path include: vocal & instrumental music; visual and media arts; theater and film; journalism and literature; mass media, TV/radio and broadcasting; advertising, public relations, graphic design, printing/publishing, telecommunications and technical writing.

The Business, Management & Information Technology Field pathway provides training in high skilled world of business, management and administration as well as marketing, finance accounting, and data processing. Students who follow this path usually have a strong background in math, science and technical skills.

The Environmental and Agricultural Systems Career Field trains students for opportunities in agriculture, the environment and natural resources. It includes agricultural science, earth sciences, environmental sciences as well as service, research, education and production. Some careers to consider are agriculture, earth sciences, environmental studies, fisheries management, animal care, forestry, lawn care, plant care, floral work, horticulture, and wildlife management.

The Health Services Career Field path offers students education in health and treatment of injuries and disease and includes service, research, education and manufacturing areas of the health industry. There are a variety of jobs in the health services field including: working in medicine, dentistry, nursing, therapy and rehabilitation, nutrition, fitness and hygiene.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Surveys And Interim Management

Research Undertaken into ‘Interim Management’

The most important factors in choosing an ‘Interim Management’ provider were said to be such aspects as:- industry knowledge, track record efficiency, cost and lastly being recommended. Respondents were also asked :- ‘How they viewed Interim Management as a resourcing option, now and as a resource in the future?’ On a scale of 1-5 (one being most important ) users rated it’s current importance at 2.6 and interestingly it’s importance in the future increases to 2.1 thus supporting the reported growth rate of the sector.

Apparently the growth rate usage of ‘Interim Managers’ is around 30% per annum as indicated by research from both the ‘Executive Grapevine’ – U.K.’s leading provider of information on human resources consultants and Aties – the ‘Interim Management’ industry’s professional body and surveys carried out to examine how the rate of ‘Interim Managers’ is viewed within the industry and to look at ways ‘Interim Managers’ have assisted organisations, together with benefits delivered.

Out of responses analysed a total of 75% were from MD’s, CEO’s and H.R Directors from the normal decision makers in the hiring of ‘Interm Managers’ the balance being other directors and HR Managers. A broad mix of industry and company size participated – service and manufacturing industries and the public sector who contributed 10%. One quarter of respondents came from companies with less than 250 employees 47% had between 251 and 1,500, with 28% having more than 2,500.

It is interesting to observe that 95% of the respondents agreed with the definition of ‘Interim Management’ as the use of Senior Executives on contract to manage a business function or project, since there has been a tendency for some non-management temporary workers to be re-branded by their supplier workers as ‘Interim Managers’ a trend which only confuses the seniority of real ‘Interim Managers’ and the potential value that they are able to bring to enterprises. 70% found ‘Interim Managers’ could be used instead of short term executives, contractors or temporary workers, whilst the remainder ( 30% ) found them an alternative to Project Managers or Management Consultants.

The main functions in which ‘Interim Managers’ were utilised were in General Management, HR and IT followed by Operations, Production and Finance. The figures were not significantly different from those who would consider using ‘Interim Managers’ in the future, except that sales and marketing and logistics were slightly ahead ( of operations, production and HR. )

Those who have experienced the service were to :- fill an unplanned gap as a project manager, followed by ‘change management’ to fill a planned gap and in crisis management. Among those without experience using ‘Interim Management’ resource, project management was still at the top of the list possible future uses, but filling gaps ( planned or unplanned ) did not feature in the top five, being replaced by testing a new opportunity (16%) change management (14%) and crisis management (13%).

Fulfillment Companies

Although companies have much in common with one another, they also differ in many ways. Some companies are large, some are small and some operate in only one product area, others operate in many diversified areas. Some operate in a small geographic area whereas others do business in many countries of the world. To cope with these varied objectives, strategies and situations, companies adopt different structures.

Departmentation is the process of dividing the company into manageable subunits. The subunits are often referred to as departments, divisions or sections. So many flexible structures are adopted these days to meet the specific needs of the companies. When low cost and efficiency are the keys to successful goal achievement, fulfillment companies should use functional departmentation. It involves grouping employees according to broad tasks they perform. Normally, separate departments are created for all the key activities of the business.

For example, in a manufacturing company, the activities essential to the existence of the company are production, marketing and finance. However, in non- manufacturing concerns these functions differ. In a transport company, the key areas may be operations, sales and finance. If the company is large, or in other words, as the company grows major departments can be subdivided. The essential idea is to take advantage of specialization.

If the company is big and operates in a stable environment, it can afford to formalize the structure. The greater the intensity of competition, the greater will be the degree of decentralization. The greater the volatility of the environment, the more decentralized and flexible company has to be and companies that implement the organizational style appropriate to their strategy will be more effective than those that use an in-appropriate style.

The question that what kind of structure is best has no single right answer. It depends on the situation. Some company need stable systems while some other needed flexible systems. The nature of the task, technology, environment and the needs of the company members are some of the factors that influence the design of the structure.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Six month finance deal accesses machines quickly

Six month deal giving 6% discount with a payment holiday of six months gives access to latest technology lathes, machining centres, EDM and grinding machines at a very competitive price.

There is nothing dicey about the 'Top Score' deal put together by 600 Centre, 600 Group finance arm 600 Finance and Colchestersales for production and tool and die industry machine tool purchase except the promotion theme of revealing three sixes from rolling the dice. Indeed, the six month deal giving 6% discount with a payment holiday of six months makes everyone a winner, especially the customer. From the 600 Group companies deal, any customer can install the latest technology lathes, machining centres, EDM and grinding machines at a very competitive price, get them into production quickly to earn an immediate return on the investment and then pay nothing except the VAT for another half year.

Says Tim Hately, director and general manager of Shepshed based 600 Centre: 'Top Score creates an important incentive to companies that are considering purchase to have the equipment installed, proven and already earning a return on the decision to buy, prior to having to start funding the purchase.' Importantly, after the six months payment holiday the customer is not tied to 600 Finance, it can elect to either pay for the machine in full, enter a very competitive finance package offered by 600 Finance or select its own independent finance company to fund the purchase.

The range of machines covered are those marketed out of 600 Centre covering Colchestersales Tornado 2 to 5 axis and 'Lights-out' lathe packages, MultiTurn and Combi combination lathes and the entire Colchester centre lathe range.

Machining centres with up to five axes are included from Fidia, Toyoda-Mitsui Seiki, Fanuc and Richmond that also include turnkey application packages, cells and systems, wire EDM machines from Fanuc and vertical EDMs from Joemars.

The complete range of Okamoto surface, internal and cylindrical grinding machines are included in the deal alongside the Perfect low-cost surface grinder range and machines from the Toyoda-Mitsui Seiki range.

Free business intelligence guide helps firms grow

A free guide called 'In The Know' shows how to discover what UK business grants are available for start-up, H and S responsibilities and chasing bad business debts.

How do you discover what business grants are available for your start-up company? Where do you get advice on your health and safety responsibilities towards your employees? And who do you turn to for help if your customers will not pay their bills?

These are just some of the important questions that most businesses will face at some point - but very few company owners will have all the answers.

Now the solutions to these problems and many more can be found in a free guide called In The Know, produced by global credit insurer, Atradius.

In The Know is designed to show firms how they can use business intelligence to help them grow and become more profitable.

It focuses on the three key areas of finance, sales and legal responsibilities, offering an overview of each topic plus tips on where to find more detailed advice.

Atradius believes that the guide will be invaluable for any size of organisation, from a start up company to a firm looking to expand or improve its business processes.

Will Clark, Atradius' regional director for UK and Ireland, NAFTA and Australasia, explains: 'Successful organisations are started by people with good ideas and expertise in a particular area.

But even the smartest bosses don't know everything about being in business, and they are often too busy running a thriving company to be able to research every aspect of commerce in detail.' Clark adds: 'However, it is essential to get to grips with the important issues that can either help you develop your business, such as funding and finding new customers, or, which could cause you headaches if you are not up to speed, like public liability or employee relations.

'There is lots of valuable information freely available and the Atradius In The Know guide will help firms find the advice and support they need.

It has been compiled by our own business experts from the wealth of data that Atradius has its fingertips - and the guide is completely free.' In The Know covers three main areas of business: * Finance - offering tips and resources on topics including finding grants and other funding, improving your cash flow and protecting your business against debt.

* Sales - which looks at creating a business plan, marketing and promotions for your business, finding news customers and increasing your sales.

* Legal Responsibilities - with tips on where to go to get legal advice, training for you and your staff, as well as improving employee relations.

Atradius credit insurance not only covers customers for up to 90 per cent of any bad debt, it also carries out initial credit checks on new customers and provides market intelligence on over 45 million individual businesses, industry sectors and markets around the world, with offices in 40 countries providing direct local experience and knowledge.

Credit insurance is ideal for any size of business, from multi-nationals through to SMEs and start-up businesses, and policies are available to cover trading risks in the UK and internationally.

Atradius also provides debt collection services in the UK and overseas, securing repayment in the most efficient and effective way possible.

For a free copy of the Atradius In The Know guides, as well as our other guides on credit insurance and credit management, or for more information on any of Atradius' products or services, visit the Altradius website.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Buyers sought for lightweight fabrics producer

Administrative receivers for Perseverance Mills, a manufacturer of specialist lightweight fabrics for the parachute, leisure and outdoor sports industries, are seeking buyers for the company.

Philip Long and Ian Schofield of PKF accountants and business advisers have been appointed administrative receivers for Perseverance Mills , a world leading manufacturer of specialist lightweight fabrics for the parachute, leisure and outdoor sports industries. 70% of Perseverance Mills' business comes from exporting goods and the company has found it increasingly difficult to deal with fierce price competition from abroad. The Company, based in Burnley and Padiham, UK, has 205 employees and had an average annual turnover of GBP 15million.

Philip Long said: 'As administrative receivers we are looking to trade the business as a going concern.

The directors were trying to sell the business and have been in talks with a number of interested parties.

'PKF has been very successful in achieving going concern sales and we hope to do the same for Perseverance Mills who, after many profitable years, has faced an increasingly tough marketplace.' Perseverance Mills was founded in 1901 and has become a world leader in its field.

Perseverance Mill developed a unique outdoor fabric called Pertex, which is 50% lighter and packs 50% smaller than the others available.

Mountaineers and climbers around the world benefit from this fabric used in clothing and equipment such as sleeping bags and jackets.

GBP 230m to support Dynacast Group acquisition

Barclays and Lloyds TSB have underwritten a GBP 230 million multicurrency term and revolving facilities agreement with Melrose, as regards acquisition of Dynacast and McKechnie Groups.

Barclays and Lloyds TSB have jointly arranged and underwritten a GBP 230 million multicurrency term and revolving facilities agreement with Melrose, as part of Melrose's proposed acquisition of the Dynacast Group and the McKechnie Group. Each bank has underwritten half of the new facility, of which GBP 200 million will be used to finance part of the cash consideration for the acquisitions, with GBP 30 million available for general corporate purposes. The existing debt of the McKechnie Group and the Dynacast Group will be repaid on completion.

Andy Martin, National Director of Manufacturing, Barclays, said: 'This deal is further evidence of Barclays' leadership position in the UK manufacturing sector'.

'We were able to combine the transaction financing expertise of the bank with the strong sectoral knowledge of our manufacturing team, to provide the funding package for this deal.' Trevor Burgess, Director of Capital Markets, Lloyds TSB, said: 'We are delighted to be supporting Melrose in providing the debt funding for this transaction'.

'Both companies were already banking with Lloyds TSB and we are very pleased to see Melrose emerge as the new owners of these high quality businesses.' * About Barclays Manufacturing Team - Barclays is the leading bank in the UK manufacturing industry, supporting over 1,600 manufacturing customers in its larger business division.

The team's relationship directors act as a gateway to the full spectrum of Barclays services, comprising debt capital market products, leveraged finance, international banking services, investment management, asset finance and sales finance.

Additionally, the team provide access to specialist products, tailored to the sector such as supply chain funding, inventory and trade finance, as well as treasury and energy hedging products.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Financial backing provided for company acquisition

Adal Group has acquired a specialist metal cladding panel supplier - Guilform - with backing from Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, which providing GBP 5 million of asset based lending facilities.

Adal Group ('Adal') has acquired specialist metal cladding panel supplier Guilform, substantially increasing its presence in the market place. The deal further cements the Group's position as the largest specialist aluminium extruder in the UK. Adal Group is a manufacturing and technology company with UK factories in Essex and Hertfordshire, but it is publicly listed in the USA and has an office in New York.

Established in 2003, the company was formed to bring together a range of outstanding added-value aluminium manufacturers and products to meet all aluminium needs from one source.

It has significantly expanded over recent years due to a number of acquisitions, including Seco Aluminium and WHJ Fagg.

Its acquisition this year of St Albans-based Guilform will help Adal develop a profitable range of architectural products and increase its presence in the USA.

As with the previous acquisitions, Adal received backing from Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, who funded the acquisition by providing GBP 5 million of asset based lending facilities.

Nicholas A Shrager, chairman and CEO of the Adal Group, says, 'Guilform is a leading supplier of aluminium based architectural products, and we are delighted that they are now part of the Adal family.

In addition to our acquisitions of Seco and WHJ Fagg, we hope to use this strength to expand into the USA.

We feel that the time is right for Adal to attack the US market, having become a US public company in 2004.' On Adal's relationship with Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, Shrager enthused, 'We like to think of Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance as being partners in our business.

When trusting someone with an important aspect of your business such as funding, it is imperative that you have a strong, dependable relationship, and we absolutely have that with Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance.

We have worked with them for a long time and established a good rapport, and, as we grow, I am sure our partnership will continue to flourish.' Commenting on the acquisition, Mike Whitby, senior client manager at Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance said, 'We have worked with the Adal Group for a number of years now, and have financed all of their acquisitions.

We have an excellent relationship with the Adal team.

It is a well-structured and ambitious group and we have been able to assist them by offering facilities tailored to their debtor, stock and machinery assets.

With our offices in Germany and New York we are well placed to help them to achieve their international growth plans.' * About Lloyds TSB - Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance is a UK specialist in the provision of asset based finance.

The company tailors financial solutions to individual businesses and helps clients maximise the cash available against all their assets.

Multi-million pound package finances MBO

GE Commercial Finance's Business Finance unit has provided a multi million pound financing package to facilitate the management buy-out of UK-based Lymington Precision Engineers.

GE Commercial Finance's Business Finance unit today announced it had provided a multi million pound financing package to facilitate the management buy-out of Hampshire-based Lymington Precision Engineers (LPE). LPE, part of the Fullers Group, was founded in 1980 and is a leading manufacturer of precision-machined drilling components that are used by the major oil companies across the globe for oil exploration. It also provides machined components, fabrications, assemblies and kit sets for the telecoms, defence, space, medical and marine industries across the globe.

The current owner, Leon Crouch is now handing over the reins of the company to the existing management team, while maintaining an interest in LPE.

Commenting on the deal, Andrew Rutherford, GE Commercial Finance, Business Finance director said: 'This is a great deal - a successful, well-established company in a niche market, a strong management team, backed by a great workforce, and a clear vision.

We worked closely with corporate finance specialists Peter Grinyer and Rosemary Penn-Newman of Fanshawe Lofts to set up this deal and without their close involvement, it would not have taken place.' Rutherford said: 'Succession planning is about finding the right exit strategy when you are ready to hand your business over to somebody else.

The task of finding and training a successor can be challenging for a business owner but it an essential element of a succession plan - and Leon Crouch has approached this with much thought and detail.

We look forward to supporting the MBO team in the continuing development and growth of the business.' The financing package consists of invoice discounting, a plant and machinery facility and a cash flow loan, which has provided the management team with the means to complete the deal.

The management team was led by managing director Tony Chalk, and its new board also includes David Craig, Chris Fletcher-Jones, Joanne Caulkett, Martin Palmer and Rob Hiscock.

The success of LPE has been driven by the effective business relationships it has developed with a host of multi-national blue chip companies to deliver specialist engineering-based services.

This has been coupled with significant capital investment and the development of a highly skilled workforce.

'The buy-out of LPE from the Fullers Group has been a complex and fascinating project to advise on,' commented Rosemary Penn-Newman of Fanshawe Lofts.

'It has required a large team of advisers to focus on providing a cohesive approach to making the deal happen and I'm delighted that we have achieved that so smoothly.' Peter Grinyer, concluded: 'LPE has a new management team which combines enormous experience and capability.

It is also retaining the support of Leon Crouch during this important next phase of its development and the opportunities for the businesses going forward are significant.'

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bank to lend more money to UK manufacturing

Barclays has announced an additional GBP 500 million of lending to be made available to the UK manufacturing sector, believing the sector will see an improved performance .

Barclays has announced an additional GBP 500 million of lending to be made available to the UK manufacturing sector, in support of its view that the sector will see an improved performance during 2006. Recent business surveys indicate an improvement in both domestic and export order-books after a period of weakness last year and the additional lending will target companies across all manufacturing sectors, along with new market 'hot-spots' such as initiatives to support employee retention, which is one of UK manufacturing's biggest concerns. Andy Martin, national director for manufacturing at Barclays, said: 'We are delighted to announce this lending boost to the sector.

On-the-ground sentiment among UK manufacturers points towards a revival in the sector's fortunes, and this lending decision supports that conviction.

We are targeting well-run, successful companies that are keen to invest for the future, and can successfully meet the current market challenges when supported with the appropriate financing.' Reflecting the diverse nature of the industry, the additional lending is expected to be well spread across all regions of the UK and the different industry sub sectors, including: energy, construction, food production, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and automotive.

Nick Brayshaw, chairman of the CBI's National Manufacturing Council and chairman of Barclays' Manufacturing Industry Strategy Board, said: 'This announcement is a vote of confidence in the strength of UK manufacturing, which has proved its resilience during the difficult times experienced over the course of the past year.

Last year Barclays provided additional lending to the sector, which was very well-received, and I'm sure this will be the case again this year.' A recent Barclays business banking survey (undertaken at 'The Manufacturer Live' event) found that nine out of ten UK manufacturers remain optimistic about prospects for their sector, despite recent tough market conditions.

Forward thinking for business success

US credit management guru, Abe WalkingBear Sanchez is returning to the UK to give two seminar presentations at the B2B London event at Earls Court in June.

US credit management guru, Abe WalkingBear Sanchez is returning to the UK to give two seminar presentations at the B2B London event at Earls Court in June. The seminars are free but spaces are limited! Abe has turned credit management on its head. His views are unfailingly compelling, visionary and often controversial.

He believes that bad debt is not something companies should be scared of but that it should be embraced as a driver for profit.

He believes passionately in the need to move forward constantly and not rely on what's been successful in the past - simply because it has been successful.

In the two seminars he will give at B2B, Abe will show how business people can tap into his forward thinking approach.

He will show how, through taking on riskier business, companies can potentially increase their profit margins by 900%.

In an interview for the exhibition, Abe WalkingBear Sanchez said: 'People reach this false conclusion that whatever we did yesterday worked.

Proof of that is that we survived and we are here today.

If we can repeat yesterday forever, we can liver forever, and they think that is the way to succeed.

'By doing the same thing over and over again, there is zero chance of learning anything new - and that's down to fear.

People need to stop reacting and start thinking - and that is when you see opportunities as clearly as risks' Abe WalkingBear Sanchez was first introduced to the UK credit management market by global credit insurer Atradius.

Atradius has long been a proponent of profit-driven credit management and has pioneered this approach in the UK.

Simon Groves, UK Marketing Manager at Atradius, says: 'WalkingBear is one of the most inspirational and energetic speakers I have met.

He breathes an incredible sense of life and importance into a subject that is still often viewed as a back-office, risk-averse cost centre.

I can only urge visitors to the B2B exhibition to attend his seminar: you will hear business insights that might just have a profound effect on your company's future profit.' Atradius, as well as sponsoring the finance theatre, which will run seminars from 10.30am to 5.15pm on both days of the show, will also be exhibiting at B2B London.

The Atradius team will be on stand 156, on hand to provide advice and information on best credit management practice.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

E-Procurement reduces costs

Enterprises today are using e-procurement to manage more requisitions, spend categories and suppliers than ever before.

Enterprises today are using e-procurement to manage more requisitions, spend categories and suppliers than ever before. And the results of a new research brief from independent research firm Aberdeen Group indicate that those leveraging the integrated offerings of Ariba, the leading spend management solutions provider, reap significantly higher rewards. According to 'E-Procurement Beyond the Hype: Companies Increase Spend Under Management, Reduce Costs with E-Procurement Systems,' companies using Ariba solutions to manage their procurement are 'outperforming their peers in multiple areas,' leading the way when it comes to cost reduction, compliance and spend under management.

In evaluating companies that have implemented e-procurement systems based on total spend under management, suppliers enabled, user adoption and reduction in unapproved or 'maverick' spending, Aberdeen found that Ariba customers: * Reduced off-contract spending by an average of 34 per cent, compared to 21 per cent for all other respondents.

* Increased spend under management by 30 per cent, compared to 8 per cent for all other respondents.

* Manage 46 per cent of their total indirect materials spend through their e-procurement system as compared to 35 per cent for all other respondents.

'We are proud to report this benchmark of Aberdeen clients using Ariba spend management solutions,' stated Sudy Bharadwaj, vice president of Aberdeen Group.

'Aberdeen's fact-based research does show where Ariba has excelled in delivering spend management results.' 'The more spend a company can control, the greater the results they can achieve,' said Lou Unkeless, chief marketing officer, Ariba.

'Ariba's spend management solutions are uniquely designed to provide the technology, commodity expertise and services needed to bring more spend under management.

And as the Aberdeen report demonstrates, companies of all sizes across all industries are using them successfully to accelerate their bottom-line results and achieve excellence.'

Automotive parts maker acquired in MBO

With guidance from PKF, a UK automotive components manufacturer making valve spring retainers and plugs was successfully acquired in an MBO and has won a major order from the USA.

Business is already booming at 'Black Country' (West Midlands) manufacturers Complex cold forming (CCF), a company formed in a management buyout from McKechnie Specialist Products, part of Melrose. Husband and wife team Paul and Sandra Mulvey have purchased the business of PSM International Complex Cold Forming Division from Warwickshire-based Melrose in a deal advised by Andy Kay, corporate finance director at the Birmingham office of accountants and business advisers, PKF. The business is currently located in Willenhall but is due to move to newly-refurbished premises in Wednesbury in June.

CCF is an automotive components manufacturer making valve spring retainers and plugs supplying original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including Ford, GM, Caterpillar, Opel and Holdens.

The company has already won a major new order from GM in the USA which will increase annual turnover by 25% from GBP 3.2 million to over GBP 4 million.

New owners Paul and Sandra Mulvey have already recruited Kevin Edwards as financial director and the business has retained its further 23 employees.

Paul Mulvey was sales and marketing director of the former business for three years before he was appointed managing director in August last year.

He said: 'It became apparent that Melrose, which has its roots in the aerospace industry, did not regard PSM International's Complex Cold Forming Division as a core activity.

One of the options they were prepared to consider was to sell the business.' But now with a new management team in Paul Mulvey with wife Sandra as administration director, the business is forging ahead.

The directors have already announced plans to invest a third of the company's turnover in the first year in new equipment which will include a GBP 1 million Formax cold heading machine and GBP 100,000 in an optical sorting machine.

Paul Mulvey said: 'With guidance from Andy Kay at PKF we have been able to buy what was an eminently viable business and put in place plans to grow the company.

The major order from GM in the States is a tremendous boost to us and we are hopeful of winning further work from Ford in Germany.' Funding for the MBO, for an undisclosed price, was arranged through Chris Jones at Eurosales Finance and legal advice to the MBO team was provided by Adrian Cutler and Darren Walker of Cobbetts.

David Allison of Martineau Johnson provided legal advice to Melrose and Richard Cliff at George Green advised Eurosales Finance.

PKF corporate finance director Andy Kay said: 'We congratulate Paul and Sandra Mulvey on the management buyout.

The deal was done in a tough economic environment where cost pressures from OEMs are continuing, but this demonstrates that quality niche component businesses can not only do well but prosper and grow.'