US-based consultancy giant CH2M Hill has raised the stakes in the Scott Wilson buyout drama with an offer of £189M for the firm.
It confirmed on Monday night that it had put in a cash offer of 245p per share, equating to a sum nearly £30M above an earlier offer by another US heavyweight URS.
This morning it was confirmed that URS must decide by 5pm today (Wednesday) whether it intends to match or up CH2M Hill’s offer. If it tells Scott Wilson it intends to, it must make this revised offer by 7.30am tomorrow (Thursday). If no revised offer is received, Scott Wilson’s board will withdraw its support to the URS bid and support the CH2M Hill bid instead.
In light of this, Scott Wilson’s board meeting - originally scheduled for Thursday - will now take place by the end of today and Scott Wilson will update the market as to its recommendation to shareholders by 7.30am Thursday.
CH2M Hill had earlier begun to up the ante on Monday afternoon by buying 13% of Scott Wilson’s shares at £2.45 per share, making it the largest shareholder of the UK firm.
“The offer we have announced today is superior to the offer announced this morning for Scott Wilson both in terms of value and the opportunities it will deliver to Scott Wilson, its business, customers and employees,” said CH2M Hill chairman Lee McIntire. “CH2M HILL has a demonstrable track record of supporting and developing the businesses we acquire.
“While we would have preferred to make this offer on a recommended basis, due to the contractual arrangements that Scott Wilson has with another party, we are making this proposal directly to Scott Wilson’s shareholders at this time. We will be seeking a recommendation to this Offer from Scott Wilson’s board, and are confident that Scott Wilson’s shareholders will be supportive of what we believe to be a compelling offer.
“We recognise the importance of providing early certainty to Scott Wilson’s employees and customers and are committed to progressing our interest as quickly as practicable.”
Scott Wilson chairman Geoff French had earlier called the URS offer “compelling”.