Support Services sector comment – February 2011

Date

The battle continues for listed consulting and business services specialist, Mouchel with Costain and Interserve both still in the running to acquire the firm despite Costain’s offers being consistently rebuffed.

Interserve, which has moved away from construction in recent years to focus on support services, appears to be the favoured bidder although just this week it posted a 13% drop in operating profit whilst Costain reported a 54% rise in pre tax profits. The strategic rationale for both acquirers is clear – the merger would create a fully integrated market leader in consultancy and support services while combining Mouchel’s complementary range of services. The obvious attraction has to be the route to expansion in public sector outsourced services, an increasingly attractive place to be as the government continues to cut costs in its attempt to transform its fiscal fortunes.

Not one to be put off by the constant rejection, Costain is looking at alternative options and has announced plans for “other large transformational” deals. CEO Andrew Wyllie has said the group has enough cash reserves and borrowing head-room to exploit major market opportunities. The company, said to have a war chest of almost £150m, plans to invest in expanding its support services operations and is keen to take advantage of visible long term framework agreements from UK public sector customers.

So just who manages to woo Mouchel remains to be seen. It is not too late for other rival bidders from the UK or perhaps even overseas to enter the race but one thing is for sure, its shareholders must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves.

Deals

Clearwater Corporate finance advised Dutch based technical services provider Imtech N.V. on the acquisition of Birmingham based Inviron. Inviron is one of the few companies in the UK that is fully specialised in technical maintenance and management and forms a perfect match for Imtech activities in the UK. Imtech is a European based group operating in the fields of mechanical and electrical ICT services across a number of sectors. The firm has annual revenues of €4.5billion and is listed on the Euronext Stock Exchange. Deal values were not disclosed.

Carillion plc acquires home installation installer Eaga plc for £306m. Carillion has identified the low carbon market as a strategic growth area and the acquisition will provide a scalable platform to build the UKs largest independent energy services provider. Eaga runs large national projects such as the Government’s Warm Front home insulation. The deal comes just weeks after Eaga’s financial results saw it post a £5m loss for the year.

NBGI Private Equity backs the £9m MBO of Facilities Services Group (FSG) from Spice Ltd. FSG is a UK market leader in the provision of hard facilities management services to large, multi-site operators, predominately in the retail and leisure sectors. NBGI has backed the existing management team led by George Lilley (Managing Director) and David Simons (Executive Chairman). Leeds-based Spice, formerly a stock market listed firm, was itself bought by private equity firm Cinven in a deal completed in December that valued the company at £251m. Following the buyout the company has plans for bolt-on acquisitions aimed at adding new services and filling geographic gaps within the UK.

Algeco Scotsman, the US company specialised in modular accommodation, acquires RB Farquhar (Hires) for an undisclosed sum. RB Farquhar, also a provider of modular buildings, has five operating branches across the UK. As a result of the transaction, Algeco Scotsman has added nearly 4, 000 units to its fleet.

Amec acquires market-leading oil and gas completions and commissioning services company qedi for £33m. Headquartered in Aberdeen, qedi employs more than 350 professionals who provide ‘technical integrity’ project delivery services to international oil companies in the UK, Gulf of Mexico, Middle East, the Caspian and Australia. With international capital expenditure in the oil industry expected to rise by 12 per cent in 2011 to over $360 billion, the acquisition of qedi will provide AMEC with the technical capability to provide specialist integrity services to major oil and gas customers.

Environmental consultancy RPS acquires US oceanographic consultancy firm Evans Hamilton Incorporated (EHI). EHI provides oceanographic consulting and marine environment measurement services, as well as carrying out environmental and coastal process studies. It has similar technical capabilities and experience as MetOcean, the business RPS acquired in Australia in August 2007.The acquisition supports RPS’s energy and environmental activities in the US, as well as assisting in the development of its growing business elsewhere in Central and South America.

Rentokil Initial acquires the Services Division of Santia Group, previously known as Connaught Compliance in a deal worth up to £5.6m. Santia’s services division consists of three business units – fumigation and pest control; water treatment and hygiene; and fire safety and prevention. Pest control will be merged with Rentokil’s UK pest business. Water will be merged with Rentokil’s existing UK water hygiene business within the Initial Facilities Services (IFS) division. Fire will form a separate business unit within the IFS division.

AIM-listed technical recruitment specialist Morson takes full control of joint venture subsidiary, Morson Wynnwith (“MW”) in a £4m deal. MW acquired the business and assets of Wynnwith Group Limited out of administration in June 2010. Wynnwith was a well respected competitor of Morson, providing technical and engineering personnel to a range of blue chip clients in the aerospace, defence, marine, electronics, airline and rail industries and engaged over 2,000 contractors.