Feb 8 British engineering and design consultancy
WS Atkins is examining potential acquisitions, its
chief executive said, but he declined to say if it had been
approached by U.S. rival CH2M over a $4 billion merger.
Dealmaking in engineering and construction has picked up in
recent years, including a failed attempt by Britain's Carillion
to merge with Balfour Beatty.
Atkins has been trying to diversify away from its home
market, which accounts for over half of its revenue, and the
U.S. is looking attractive for infrastructure spending.
"We see very interesting signs that what was regarded as
pre-election rhetoric is now really coming together quite
nicely," CEO Uwe Krueger said after a trading update.
Atkins, which worked on London's 2012 Olympic site as well
as a renovation of New York's Statue of Liberty, was seeking
deals in the United States, Middle East and Asia Pacific as well
as to grow its energy business, Krueger added on Wednesday.
"At any point in time we're looking at quite a number of
acquisition opportunities... Whatever makes sense from a
commercial and strategic perspective, we will be looking at it
whether it's small, medium-sized or large," he told Reuters.
Krueger, however, declined to comment on a January report in
the Times that said privately owned CH2M made an approach for
Atkins at a senior level over a $4 billion merger.
"We have a strict policy that we do not comment on rumour or
speculation so there's really nothing to add," he said.
Shares in Atkins, which maintained its full-year outlook
targets and reported in-line third-quarter trading, were up 1.7
percent at 1,504 pence at 1013 GMT, giving it a market value of
about 1.5 billion pounds.
A merger with CH2M would increase Atkins' U.S. footprint to
greater than 50 percent of group sales and strengthen its
position in energy, water and transportation, according to
Liberum, which has a "buy" rating and 1,600 pence target price.
Atkins said on Wednesday its financial position remained
strong. Liberum, which said rumours of a deal between Atkins and
CH2M was "credible", estimated net cash of 27.4 million pounds
for the year ending March 2017.
(Editing by Alexander Smith)