15 Aug 2017

$265m takeover bid for local infrastructure firm

2:41 pm on 15 August 2017

A Canadian-based engineering consultancy firm has made a $265 million takeover bid for local infrastructure company Opus International.

Opus House in Christchurch

Opus House in Christchurch Photo: Supplied / Opus

Montreal-based WSP Global company, which is listed on the Toronto stock exchange, has offered $1.78 a share, compared with Opus's pre-offer price of $0.99 on Friday.

WSP has 100 staff in New Zealand, and works on major civil and transportation projects around the world. It is currently working on redeveloping New York City's LaGuardia Airport, and was also involved in London's Shard office building and New York's Freedom Tower.

Alexandre L'Heureux, the company's president and chief executive, said Opus offered expertise in areas they did not have, as well as exposure to a greater range of work in New Zealand.

"We're paying a healthy price, but because Opus is a strong franchise and that's why we're paying that kind of price."

He said Opus' expertise in asset management was something they would like to export around the world.

Opus' major shareholder - the Malaysian-based UEM Edgenta, which has a 61 percent stake - has already agreed to sell.

However, Opus' board has advised shareholders to sit tight until an independent adviser's report is done.

After the offer was disclosed, Opus reported a $6.2m profit for the six months ended June compared with the previous year's $23m loss, which included asset writedowns.