South African Firm Moves Closer to Clough Acquisition

Sunday, November 10th, 2013
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South Africa’s Murray & Roberts has made key progress toward its proposed $435 million acquisition of Australian engineering firm Clough by obtaining shareholder and regulatory approval for the takeover bid.

At a general shareholders meeting of Murray & Roberts, which already own a majority stake in Clough, shareholders gave their approval to the proposed acquisition of all outstanding shares in the Perth-headquartered engineering and project services firm.

The South African firm also announced that it had received a letter from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (“FIRB”) indicating that the board harboured no objections to the takeover bid.

Murray & Roberts, a JSE-listed engineering and construction company, currently holds a 61.6 per cent stake in Clough and has offered to acquire the remaining 38.4 per cent for roughly $435 million.

Clough, which is listed on the ASX and headquartered in Perth, is an engineering and project services company which chiefly provides its services to the energy and mining sectors of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The company has extensive involvement in a number of key LNG projects in Australia, the one segment of the country’s resources sector which is expected to enjoy strong prospects in the future amidst the malaise induced by the mining slump.

These include a contract for engineering, procurement and construction management for Chevron’s Gorgon Project, the provision of integrated project management support (IPMS) services and engineering design and procurement services for the Ichthys LNG Project in the Browse Basin off the coast of Western Australia, and the design and construction of jetties and related facilities for both the Ichthys LNG Project and Chevron’s Wheatstone LNG plant.

Murray & Roberts, which is headquartered in Johannesburg and listed on the JSE Securities Exchange, is considered one of South Africa’s leading engineering and construction services companies, and like Clough focuses primarily on the energy and resources sectors.

The deal now remains contingent upon the approval of Clough shareholders, who are scheduled to vote on the proposed acquisition at a meeting on November 15.

If successful, the deal will be one of the biggest foreign buyouts of an Australian engineering firm this year, arriving just two months after news broke in September that California’s Jacobs Engineering would acquire private company Sinclair Knight Merz for $1.2 billion.

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