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Ex-Atkins boss stalks Mouchel in VT group

A former Atkins chief executive and a one time Balfour Beatty group MD are leading a bid by support services organisation VT Group to buy consultant Mouchel.

The 12,000-strong VT Group headed by chairman and former Atkins boss Mike Jeffries and chief executive and ex-Balfour Beatty group MD Paul Lester offered 260p per share for Mouchel in December. This was the firm’s second offer, up from 247p per share.

Mouchel, itself led by former Atkins director Richard Cuthbert, has rejected both bids. Sources close to VT Group suggest Mouchel is looking for an offer closer to 300p per share.

Mouchel shares were trading at 259p as NCE went to press.

Facts and figures

VT
Turnover
£1.1bn
Pretax profit £86.6M
Staff 12,000
Key sectors Defence, nuclear,
central government

“Our offer is still on the table,” said a VT spokesman. “We are now all waiting for one or other party to make the next move.”

VT believes it has made a good offer and is talking to shareholders. It said the potential savings in overheads that could be created by uniting both companies may help its cause as many of its major shareholders are also shareholders in Mouchel.

VT Group was formerly ship builder Vosper Thornycroft but over the last 15 years has transformed itself into a support services group much as Mouchel has done over the same period. VT sold the ship building element of its business in October for £360M which has given it the cash to launch an assault on Mouchel.

“Most of our work is with central government,” said the VT spokesman “and our strategy is to extend our footprint with local authorities, especially with the anticipated move to greater outsourcing.”

Facts and figures

Mouchel
Turnover
£656.7M
Pretax profit £26.3M
Staff 11,300
Key sectors Highways, water,
local government

Mouchel has a strong portfolio with local government and in its interim management statement published in December when it reported a £2bn order book, it stated that “the outsourcing and service re-engineering required (to meet predicted cuts in public expenditure) present significant opportunities for the group.”

However losses, particularly in Dubai, have hit Mouchel hard.

In June NCE reported that the business was ripe for takeover after it was forced to write off £30M in earnings in the Middle East and had lost a major Network rail bridge inspection contract. At the time Mouchel dismissed the claim (NCE 25 June 2009)

Readers' comments (1)

  • In my opinion Mouchel should bite VT's hand off whilst the offer is still on the table - as Cuthbert said at the time or the Parkman and Mouchel "merger", think of the economies of scale. One only hopes that, if the takeover goes ahead, VT treat Mouchel staff better than Mouchel treated the staff (many of who'm no longer work for Mouchel) of its many acquisitions over recent years.

    Senior Mouchel staff must be dreading a takeover and no doubt having to get used to yet another finance management package. Although, that said, staff are struggling to use the recently implemented "Connect" finance system, which went live in August 2009, and are "losing" money left right and centre.

    There has been no mention in the press, or on Mouchel's website, of the sudden departure of one of Mouchel's MD's (Piers Clarke, another ex Atkins employee) just before Christmas. It would be interesting to find out if his departure relates to the possible acquisition by VT.

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