Wolseley taps up Walter Meier to buy stake in Swiss arm Tobler

 
Oliver Gill
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Walter Meier is a Swiss heating and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) distributor (Source: Getty)

Trade merchant Wolseley has agreed to sell a majority stake in Tobler, its Swiss plumbing subsidiary, to local competitor Walter Meier for SFr118m (£94m).

The FTSE 250 firm will retain a 39 per cent stake in the Tobler and the transaction is subject to approval by Walter Meier's shareholders and Swiss authorities.

Read more: Wolseley shares restrained despite gushing first quarter

Wolseley is in the middle of a painful £100m restructuring of its UK operations. Last September, the firm announced it would close 80 stores with the loss of 800 jobs.

UK markets were referred to as "weak" by Wolseley's chief executive John Martin in December.

Although tracing its roots back to the 19th century in the UK, it is the firm's US division, Ferguson, that is going from strength to strength. In its latest results posted revenues of £2.9bn – more than the amount generated by the rest of the firm.

Read more: Wolseley to cut 800 jobs and shut 80 branches across the UK

Wolseley said in a stockmarket announcement:

If completed, the merger would be consistent with the strategic objectives of both Wolseley and Walter Meier to create a high quality, market-leading business across plumbing, heating and HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] distribution in Switzerland.

Wolseley's shares fell in early trading before regaining lost ground to be broadly in line with yesterday's market close at 1pm.

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