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Boskalis to Seek Acquisitions After Smit Integration, CEO Says

Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, the world’s biggest dredging company, will seek further acquisitions after it fully integrates the 1.1 billion-euro ($1.5 billion) purchase of Smit International NV, Chief Executive Officer Peter Berdowski said.

“In March, we’ll announce a new business plan,” Berdowski said today in a phone interview. “In the next couple of years we’ll generate a lot of cash to further build the company via acquisitions.”

Boskalis today raised its full-year earnings forecast to 290 million euros. That exceeded the average estimate of 252 million euros in a Bloomberg survey, sending Boskalis shares up as much as 11 percent, their biggest intraday rise since August 2009.

The company will seek out new acquisitions starting next year, focusing on targets “a bit smaller” than Smit, Berdowski said. “I don’t see any logical steps in dredging in the next couple of years, so it will be in adjacent areas, as well as filling in white spots on the map.”

The shares added 10 percent to 32.71 euros at 2:18 p.m. in Amsterdam, giving the Papendrecht, Netherlands-based dredger a market value of 3.3 billion euros.

Boskalis and Smit, the world’s biggest marine-salvager, are “working together well,” Berdowski said. “In 2011, we will also have a shared budget.”

Harbor Towage

Berdowski bought Smit in 2009 as the global financial crisis hit the construction and dredging industry. In addition to salvage, Smit also operates tugboats in ports including Rotterdam, raises pontoons for offshore construction and tows vessels to oil and gas terminals. Boskalis said in a statement today that harbor-towage operations are benefiting from increased trade volume in shipping.

Dredging had an “extremely strong” quarter, and a large portion of the dredging fleet “is assured of good utilization levels for a significant part of 2011,” the company said.

Boskalis has secured about 70 percent of next year’s dredging projects, Berdowski said in the interview. The company will continue to look for “short-term” projects to further improve its utilization rate.

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