BESIX seeks to strengthen its presence in Australia through majority stake in Watpac
On 26 February 2018, BESIX announced its intention to acquire a further 35.95% of the issued capital in the Australian contractor Watpac Ltd. Since its first acquisition of a block of 15% of the shares in Watpac Ltd in April 2013, BESIX gradually increased its holding up to 28.1% and currently has two Directors on the Board of Watpac.
BESIX and Watpac have established a long-standing partnership, aimed at delivering outstanding results to their clients. As a strong supporter of the Watpac business, BESIX deems now the time appropriate to add further significant long-term value to Watpac and has therefore made an all-cash proposal to increase its shareholding to 64%. The Independent Directors of Watpac’s Board have recommended that eligible shareholders vote in favor of BESIX’s proposal.
The strengthened strategic alliance between the two companies would combine Watpac’s unique Australian heritage and footprint with BESIX’s expertise as a leading international contractor. According to Carlo J. Schreurs, Chief Development Officer of BESIX Group: “This strategic alliance opens up many new opportunities for Watpac. It is an exciting opportunity for BESIX to further leverage on a leading contracting business in Australia. With BESIX’s outstanding international reputation and Watpac’s strong brand, we would generate compelling value for clients, employees and shareholders. The enhanced financial strength and operational expertise that BESIX will bring as the majority shareholder would add significant long term value to Watpac.”
For Rik Vandenberghe, CEO of BESIX Group: “As companies, Watpac and BESIX share many of the same operating cultures, with excellence and entrepreneurship at the heart of how we do business. By having unfettered access to BESIX’s enhanced technical capabilities, Watpac would be able to develop a broader service offering and compete for larger and more complex projects. As part of an international multi-services group, Watpac would have access to the experienced BESIX talent pool and attract new talents at home. I am convinced that a closer alignment between us will substantially benefit both companies from day one.”
BESIX’s offer is subject to the report of an Independent Expert, approval by the Australian authorities and Watpac shareholders in late May 2018. The Scheme of Arrangement will be implemented soon thereafter.
Watpac is an Australian construction, civil engineering works and mining services company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Founded 35 years ago, the company’s activities cover a wide range of projects across all main states of Australia. Watpac employs over 1,000 people in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Townsville and elsewhere throughout Australia. The company posted sales of approximately 750m EUR in 2017.
BESIX has already been present in Australia since 2011, primarily active in marine works. In 2011, Bechtel – as main contractor for Chevron – awarded BESIX the EPC contract for a breakwater and wharves for the marine offloading facility at the Wheatstone LNG Project in the northern part of Western Australia. The total project value was c. 250m EUR and the works were successfully completed by the end of 2015. In 2017, Fortescue Metals Group awarded BESIX the Design & Build contract for the new tug infrastructure at Port Hedland, also in Western Australia. The project is currently ongoing and valued at approximately 20m EUR.
Source: BESIX (press release)
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