Willmott Dixon seeks buyer for its support services division
Willmott Dixon has put its support services division up for sale to concentrate on main contracting and residential development.
The board has decided that subsidiaries Willmott Dixon Partnerships and Willmott Dixon Energy Services would perform better if they were not part of a wider construction company.
However, if it cannot find a suitable buyer at the right price, it will keep running them “with renewed vigour”. Accountancy firm EY has been retained to advise on the sale process.
In 2014 Willmott Dixon generated £143m from its support services operations, compared to £753m from construction.
The full statement issued by the company spells out the reasoning behind the strategy shift:
"Willmott Dixon currently has three operating divisions; major contracting, residential development and support services.
“Whilst the support services division is performing well under experienced and capable management, and is expected to continue delivering reliable and profitable returns well into the future, the Group board believes there to be significant untapped potential. Indeed, with the right direction, support and synergies, it is confident that the two subsidiary companies involved - Willmott Dixon Partnerships and Willmott Dixon Energy Services - could each grow to challenge ‘market leader’ status in their respective sectors.
“However, the board also recognises that these businesses are being hampered to some extent by being minority players in a group predominantly rooted in contracting and development activity. Efforts have been made to accommodate their different needs and provide the right leadership and support environment, but if they are to realise their full potential they deserve more; and this would be best achieved by seeking input from another organisation able to offer greater support services focus, to cross fertilise specialist skills and business relationships, and to heighten ambition and accelerate growth.
“The decision has therefore been taken to invite expressions of interest from strategic partners, investors or purchasers who feel they can help unlock the significant potential in these two businesses. This process will be undertaken in cooperation with management, with an open mind, and with the clear proviso that any acceptable outcome must, as a precondition, improve business prospects and successfully balance the best interests of customers, employees and shareholders alike.
“Whilst this is the group board’s preferred outcome, it is also mindful that there is a degree of uncertainty involved; if the search does not identify a partner able to provide a compelling ‘added value’ proposition, it would mean that Willmott Dixon remains the best environment within which to drive both businesses forward - in which case it would continue to do exactly that, and with renewed vigour.”
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This article was published on 11 Feb 2016 (last updated on 12 Feb 2016).