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Keller acquires Australian marine foundations firm for £21M

Ground engineering firm Keller Group has acquired the Sydney-based marine foundation contractor Waterway Constructions.

Keller Group will pay cash from its existing reserve with an initial payment of A$37M (£21M), including an estimated £4M of acquired net cash, together with a maximum deferred consideration of £6.8M, based on future profits in the three years to 30 June 2013.

Waterway specialises in the construction of foundations for wharves, jetties and other marine structures and the maintenance and extension of existing structures. The business was formed in 1993 and has since grown to become one of the largest specialist near-shore marine foundation contractors on the east coast of Australia, with a strong reputation for excellence in engineering.

Waterway will maintain a strong presence in New South Wales whilst looking to increase its penetration of the Queensland and Victoria markets. In the medium term, there are good prospects for expansion into Western Australia, where planned minerals and energy projects are expected to generate strong demand for both land and near-shore marine based foundation services.

The Group hopes the acquisition will enable Keller Australia to offer combined packages of land and near-shore marine foundation solutions.

In the year ending 30 June 2010, Waterway is expected to report an operating profit of around £4M on revenue of about £31M. However, going forward Keller expects the operating margin to ease back to its historic level of around 10%. Gross assets at 31 December 2009 were £21M.

“Waterway is a highly respected and growing company which strongly complements our existing business in Australia,” said Keller chief executive Justin Atkinson. “As the demand for a combination of land and marine based foundation services continues to grow, we are delighted that in future customers of Keller Australia will be able to benefit from a packaged solution which meets this need.

“This acquisition will consolidate our position as foundations market leader in Australia, enabling us to take full advantage of the excellent opportunities we are continuing to see in this strong market.”

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