URS ready to raise its bid for Scott Wilson to trump rival

City A.M. Reporter
US engineering firm URS said it might sweeten its offer for Scott Wilson to trump a rival bid from privately held CH2M Hill, escalating the bidding war for the UK consultancy.

San Francisco-based URS said yesterday it was considering raising its offer for Scott Wilson to 245p a share or more, a day after US consultancy CH2M scuppered its initial bid, which was backed by Scott Wilson’s board. “It (URS) is considering its next move, but has matching options in place and may well return with a higher offer,” said Panmure Gordon analyst Mike Allen, who has a “hold” rating on the stock.

On Monday, URS, which has a market capitalisation of $3.38bn (£2.2bn), had made a recommended cash offer of 210p per share for Scott Wilson, valuing the company at £161m.

Colorado-headquartered CH2M Hill responded with a rival bid, which was 35p more than URS’ offer and at a 105 per cent premium to Scott Wilson’s Friday close. It valued the company at £189m. The shares hit a record high yesterday of 261p.

CH2M said it acquired a 13 per cent stake in the company at 245p a share and received irrevocable undertakings from certain Scott Wilson shareholders, who represent about five per cent of the company’s total issued share capital.