Apollo Global Management Inc. has made a final £1.66 billion ($2 billion) offer for John Wood Group Plc, the Scottish engineering company that’s already spurned four takeover approaches from the private equity firm.
New York-based Apollo said in a statement on Tuesday that its latest 240 pence-a-share cash proposal represented a 59% premium to Wood Group’s closing price on Feb. 21, the day before the FTSE 250 company confirmed it had received previous offers. Bloomberg News reported earlier that Apollo was weighing a slightly improved bid.
Wood Group has been reluctant to grant Apollo further access to its business after saying in March that a fourth offer of £1.64 billion undervalued the company. It said at the time it intended to engage with Apollo on a “limited basis”.
Apollo said on Tuesday that its final offer would “provide a compelling opportunity for Wood’s shareholders to monetise their holdings” and that it looked forward to “engaging constructively” with its target’s board.
Shares in Wood Group rose as much as 9.5%, the biggest gain in almost a month, and were up 2.5% at 3:21 p.m. in London, valuing the company at about £1.5 billion. The stock, which has risen more than 50% this year on the back of Apollo’s interest, took a knock in late March after Wood Group reported a full-year operating loss that missed consensus.
Despite the overall gains, Wood Group still believes its shares are cheap relative to industry peers, such as Worley Ltd. in Australia, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information.
Wood Group offers a range of services to energy companies, including engineering support, consultation and management of assets. The company has been looking for ways to unlock the value it feels has not been reflected in its share price.
The company’s stock remains down about 60% over the past five years, a period in which Wood Group was hit by lower spending among oil and gas producers and charges linked to its 2017 acquisition of UK engineering-service provider Amec Foster Wheeler Plc.
Last year, it agreed to sell its built-environment consulting business to WSP Global Inc. for gross proceeds of about $1.9 billion to help pay down debt. It was a final deal for then Chief Executive Officer Robin Watson, who oversaw the Amec Foster Wheeler purchase.
Apollo is one of the world’s biggest private equity investors and has been on the acquisition trail, agreeing multibillion-dollar deals for chemicals producer Univar Solutions Inc., auto parts-maker Tenneco Inc., freight company and Atlas Air since the start of 2022.
But the New York-based firm is known in the world of leveraged buyout for its reluctance to risk overpaying for assets, a stance that’s seen it miss out on possible acquisitions of education publisher Pearson Plc and bookmaker William Hill in recent times.
Like its peers, Apollo is having to contend with a tricky market for securing financing for deals. While sentiment among lenders showed some signs of improving during the first quarter, leading to a brief flurry of buyouts, things soured in the wake of high-profile banking collapses in the US and Europe.
–With assistance from Swetha Gopinath and Crystal Tse.
Photo Credit – iStock.com/Gajus
Published at Tue, 04 Apr 2023 14:00:01 -0700