CH2M Hill Offers $286 Million for Scott Wilson Group to Top Bid From URS

CH2M Hill Cos., a U.S. engineering and environmental consulting firm, offered to buy U.K.-based Scott Wilson Group Plc for 245 pence a share, topping a bid accepted hours earlier from URS Corp.

The plan values Scott Wilson, which is helping design London’s Crossrail train line, at 189 million pounds ($285.5 million), closely held CH2M said today. That’s 17 percent more than the proposal for 161 million pounds, or 210 pence a share, advanced by San Francisco-based URS.

CH2M’s bid for all of Scott Wilson built on the disclosure earlier today that the Englewood, Colorado-based firm had taken a 13 percent stake and was considering a cash offer for the rest of the company. CH2M Hill has worked on projects including a seven-year program to double the capacity of the Panama Canal.

“The combination of Scott Wilson and CH2M Hill will create a larger and stronger group and will represent to the customers of both companies an attractive international service provider,” CH2M Hill said in an e-mailed statement.

An outside spokesman for URS didn’t immediately return messages seeking a comment.

Scott Wilson more than doubled to close at 253 pence in London trading, suggesting that investors expected another bid. URS’s offer was 76 percent more than the U.K. company’s June 25 closing price. URS rose 53 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $41.32 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Bidding War

The emergence of CH2M as a suitor for Scott Wilson follows a $1.3 billion bidding war for British manufacturer Chloride Group Plc, where ABB Ltd. beat Emerson Electric Co. to conclude a deal. URS said Basingstoke, England-based Scott Wilson would accelerate its expansion in the U.K. and growth markets spanning transport infrastructure.

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 earlier today. “These discussions just started as a matter of natural course.”

Koffel declined to discuss CH2M’s interest in Scott Wilson. CH2M earlier had acquired 9.5 million shares in Scott Wilson at 245 pence a share.

The URS chairman cited low corporate tax as making the U.K. attractive even as the government looks to make budget cuts.

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.

To contact the reporters on this story: Howard Mustoe in London at hmustoe@bloomberg.net; Mary Jane Credeur in New York at mcredeur@bloomberg.net.

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.