The Aberdeen-based energy services and consulting firm John Wood Group has rejected three takeover approaches from Apollo Global Management, in the latest private equity raid on a UK company.
The FTSE-250 company said in a stock market filing on Wednesday that it had rebuffed all unsolicited proposals from the US firm, with the most recent approach in late January valuing it at £1.59bn. The cash offer for all of its shares was worth 230p each.
The company said: “The board carefully considered each of the proposals, together with its financial advisers, and has engaged on a limited basis with Apollo. The board unanimously rejected each of the proposals, having concluded that they each significantly undervalued the repositioned group’s prospects.”
Under UK takeover rules, Apollo has until 22 March to announce a firm intention to make a takeover offer or walk away.
Shares in John Wood closed 3.4% lower at 145.80p in London on Wednesday, giving it a market value of £1bn.
It is the latest UK company to be targeted by private equity. For example, Greybull Capital, which is associated with the 2019 collapse of British Steel, is weighing up a bid for the collapsed battery startup Britishvolt, as administrators at EY try to push through a sale of the gigafactory project.
One of the biggest private equity takeovers in recent years was that of the supermarket chain Morrisons. It has struggled and sales have fallen since the New York-based Clayton, Dubilier & Rice took it over in a £7bn buyout in October 2021. The deal more than doubled the grocer’s debt pile, from £3.2bn in January 2021 to £6.8bn a year later, according to the credit rating agency Moody’s.
John Wood is focused on energy and materials, hoping to benefit from a global drive towards energy security and low-carbon or net zero economies. It recently won a five-year engineering services contract renewal from BP, a three-year contract renewal from Shell in the North Sea, and a four-year contract with Ineos to deliver a petrochemicals complex in Belgium.
Last month Ken Gilmartin, who joined the company in September 2021 and was promoted from chief operating officer to chief executive in July, hailed a “new Wood, led by a new team”.