Scotland business

Pioneering biodiesel producer Argent Energy sold

Chips cooking in oil
Image caption Argent makes biodiesel from used cooking oil and other industry by-products

Argent Energy, a pioneer of large-scale commercial production of biodiesel in the UK, has been bought by a green investment company.

Argent, based near Motherwell, was sold to a subsidiary of London-based John Swire & Sons for an undisclosed sum.

Argent makes green road fuel by recycling wastes and residues such as used cooking oil and tallow from the meat industry.

The firm will stay in private ownership and will continue to run independently.

Its senior management, including chairman Andy Hunter, managing director Jim Walker and financial director Jim Boyd are to remain with the company.

Souter Investments, the private investment company of transport tycoon Sir Brian Souter, confirmed it had sold its 37% stake in Argent.

'Future potential'

Mr Walker said the investment by John Swire underlined Argent's strong market position, adding there was now an opportunity "to take Argent's skills further afield".

Barnaby Swire, of John Swire, said his company was committed to "exploring and investing in innovative and viable green industries".

He added: "We are delighted to be acquiring Argent Energy, a company which we believe can grow and prosper not only within the UK but also overseas, in particular in Asian markets with which Swire Group companies are familiar.

"John Swire & Sons Ltd sees in Argent Energy's employees a mix of attributes and values that are compatible with our own, and look forward to working with them to maximise Argent Energy's future potential."

Argent was established in 2001. In 2009 it was bought by a consortium which included senior management along with Souter Investments.

Its plant at Newarthill, near Motherwell, has the capacity to produce up to 50 million litres of biodiesel a year.

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