Wood rejects third takeover approach from Sidara

Wood Group HQ, Aberdeen

John Wood Group plc, the Aberdeen-based engineering and consulting giant, said on Friday its board unanimously rejected a third cash takeover proposal from Dubai-based firm Sidara.

Wood said Sidara’s latest takeover proposal pitched at £2.20 per share — which values the Aberdeen firm at about £1.52 billion — “continued to significantly undervalue the group and its prospects.”

Wood shares rose about 4% to £1.87.

Wood, one of Scotland’s biggest listed firms, employs more than 35,000 people in 60 countries.

Last month, Wood was urged by activist investor Sparta Capital Management — which claimed to be a “significant” Wood shareholder — to either move its stock market listing from London to the US or consider a sale of the firm.

The call from Sparta came 11 months after the collapse of a £1.66 billion takeover approach for Wood from New York private equity firm Apollo Global Management that was pitched at £2.40 per share in cash.

In a stock exchange statement on Friday, Wood said: “On 21 May 2024 the board of Wood received a third unsolicited, preliminary and conditional proposal from Dar Al-Handasah Consultants Shair and Partners Holdings Ltd (Sidara) for a cash offer of 220 pence per Wood share.

“This represents an increase of approximately 3.8% to the previous proposal of 212 pence per Wood share submitted on 14 May 2024, which was in turn an increase of approximately 3.4% to the initial proposal of 205 pence per Wood share submitted on 30 April 2024.

The board, together with its financial advisers, carefully considered the third proposal, in particular, in the context of the board’s view of the fundamental prospects of Wood, and concluded that it continued to significantly undervalue the group and its prospects.

“Accordingly, the board unanimously rejected the third proposal on 23 May 2024.

There can be no certainty either that an offer will be made or as to the terms on which any offer might be made.

“Further announcements will be made as appropriate.

Any offer for Wood is governed by the Code. Under Rule 2.6(a) of the Code, Sidara must, by not later than 5.00 p.m. on 5 June 2024, either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Wood in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Code or announce that it does not intend to make an offer, in which case the announcement will be treated as a statement to which Rule 2.8 of the Code applies.

“This deadline can be extended with the consent of the Panel in accordance with Rule 2.6(c) of the Code.”