Germany's Helmig Family Said to Weigh Murray & Roberts Deal

  • Helmigs said to build stake in South African mining contractor
  • Family eyes potential combination of Redpath, Murray & Roberts

Germany’s Helmig family has been acquiring shares in South African engineering contractor Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd. as it explores combining that business with its own mining industry service provider, J.S. Redpath Holding Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

The Helmig family, which controls the investment company Aton GmbH, is working with a financial adviser on a potential deal between Redpath and Murray & Roberts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are confidential. Murray & Roberts’ Cementation unit is the world’s largest underground mining contractor and Redpath is the second-biggest.

Murray & Roberts shares jumped on Friday after Macquarie Group Ltd. approached investors offering a premium for their stock, a person familiar with the matter said previously. The South African company said at the time that it didn’t know who bought the stock. About 96 million shares traded on Feb. 16, according to the statement, equivalent to about 22 percent of its ordinary share capital. According to Johannesburg’s stock exchange rules, the buyer has to notify the company within three days of paying for the trade, meaning the investment could be announced this week. Shares of Murray & Roberts were little changed at 15 rand as of 9:11 a.m. in Johannesburg, giving it a market value of about $510 million.

Representatives for Aton and Redpath couldn’t be reached for comment. A spokesman for Murray & Roberts said the company hadn’t received notification from the buyer of the shares and will release details as soon as possible.

“That the buyer has bought this on the market without notifying the company is an unusual move,” Ed Jardim, a spokesman for the South African company, said about the share purchases, declining to comment on potential interest from Aton. Murray & Roberts releases first-half earnings Wednesday.

Murray & Roberts, which built landmarks such as Johannesburg’s Carlton Centre, Africa’s tallest building, went through a transformation last year when it sold its building and infrastructure units to focus on international businesses specializing in underground mining, oil and gas, and power and water projects.

Aton owns businesses including Redpath, which provides services and products and machinery for mining and shaft sinking. The Helmig family traces its wealth to the sale of a European clinic operator, Helios Clinics.

— With assistance by Janice Kew

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