The company has announced its intention to acquire a further 35.95% of the issued capital, bringing its total to about 64%. Besix first bought into Watpac in 2013 with a block of 15% of the shares. It continued to increased its holding to 28.1% and currently has two directors on the board of Watpac.
The independent directors on Watpac’s board have recommended that eligible shareholders vote in favour of Besix’s all-cash proposal.
Besix Group chief development officer Carlo Schreurs said: “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.” He added that the enhanced financial strength and operational expertise that Besix will bring as the majority shareholder would add significant long-term value to Watpac.
Besix Group CEO Rik Vandenberghe added that Watpac and Besix share many of the same operating cultures. “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.
Watpac is an Australian construction, civil engineering works and mining services company founded 35 years ago and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. It employs over 1,000 people in Australia and posted sales of approximately €750m (£660m) 2017. Besix has been working in Australia since 2011, primarily in marine works.