DTZ confirms talks with an Aussie bidder

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in DTZ rallied by as much as 50 per cent yesterday after the distressed property agent revealed that it was in advanced takeover talks with Australian engineering-to-property services group UGL.

DTZ, which put itself up for sale last month, saw its shares collapse by more than 86 per cent on Monday, knocking £44m off its market value after the firm said the equity in its business was worth “minimal value”, if anything.

Shares rose sharply before closing up 11.4 per cent yesterday after the property consultancy named UGL as its preferred bidder, without confirming the sale price, with a 6 December deadline for a deal to be tabled under UK‚ÄąTakeover Code rules.

John Forester, DTZ’s chief executive said the firm had been holding discussions with UGL, a £1.4bn Asian-Pacific company listed on the Australian stock exchange, “for a number of years”.

“It is a really interesting geographic and services fit. Many of [UGL’s] service lines will benefit from access to the Europe markets and of course our strength in China,” he said.

The combined business would have 24,000 staff across 45 countries and a pro forma 2011 revenue of $1.2bn.

DTZ’s net debt stood at £64m in mid-April, and its borrowings are around £106m.

The firm has suffered since making several acquisitions at the top of the market before the crisis in 2008.