URS Corp., the U.S. infrastructure services provider pursuing Scott Wilson Group Plc, may raise its offer for the British engineering adviser after a rival 189 million-pound ($285.5 million) bid threatened its takeover plan.
CH2M Hill Cos., a U.S. engineering adviser, yesterday offered to buy Scott Wilson for 245 pence a share. That’s 17 percent more than the agreed proposal for 161 million pounds, or 210 pence a share, advanced by San Francisco-based URS. Shares of Scott Wilson climbed 3.6 percent to 262 pence.
“URS has matching rights arrangements agreed with Scott Wilson and is considering increasing its offer to 245 pence or above,” it said in a statement today.
URS risks a bidding war with its Englewood, Colorado-based rival that’s built a 13.1 percent stake in Scott Wilson and won support of 5 percent of its investors for its offer. Scott Wilson, which is helping design London’s Crossrail train line, would give both companies the means to tap markets for transport infrastructure.
Scott Wilson extended gains on London’s stock exchange today, after more than doubling in value yesterday. The shares traded at 258 pence as of 9 a.m., up 2 percent or 5 pence.
The emergence of CH2M as a suitor for Scott Wilson follows a $1.5 billion bidding contest for British manufacturer Chloride Group Plc, with Emerson Electric Co. (EMR:US) seeking to derail the planned takeover of the company by ABB Ltd.
CH2M Hill, which acquired 9.5 million shares in Scott Wilson at 245 pence a share, has worked on projects including a seven-year program to double the capacity of the Panama Canal.
Scott Wilson and URS have “known each other for many years and have worked together on projects,” URS Chairman Martin Koffel said in a telephone interview before CH2M’s bid. “These discussions just started as a matter of natural course.”
The companies cooperated on the widening of the U.K.’s M1 motorway, Scott Wilson Chief Executive Officer Hugh Blackwood said in the interview. URS leads Nuclear Management Partners, a venture with Amec Plc and Areva SA that decommissions nuclear waste at Sellafield.
Koffel declined to discuss CH2M’s interest in Scott Wilson.
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