US private-equity firm Apollo Global Management has been given more time to announce a firm intention to make a takeover offer for Aberdeen's biggest company, Wood.

The previous deadline was this Wednesday, but it has now been put back to next month.

The Granite City business said in a statement last Friday this move follows engagement with shareholders and to allow for the scheduled release of Wood's full-year results on March 28.

Apollo now has until April 19 to announce a firm intention to make an offer for Wood or to say that it does not intend to.

Wood’s latest statement added: “There can be no certainty either that an offer will be made nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made.”

Shares in the firm rose by 1.27% on the day to close at 205.49p – still significantly below Apollo’s most-recent proposal.

Fourth bid

It was March 7 when Wood revealed that Apollo had made a fourth unsolicited move for the company.

The slightly-improved offer of 237p per share valued the operation at £1.64billion.

The leading engineering and consultancy business said its board believed the latest proposal continued to undervalue the group and was therefore minded to reject the move.

It added: “The board will continue to engage with its shareholders and intends to engage further, on a limited basis, with Apollo."

Wood said last month that it had rejected three unsolicited bids from the private-equity firm.

News of the moves had led to Wood shares shooting up.

Third approach

The third approach was received on January 26 and proposed a 230p cash payment per share. That bid valued the Granite City firm at just under £1.6billion.

Apollo’s interest in the company has fuelled fears that cheaply-valued UK businesses are vulnerable to foreign takeovers this year, as cash-rich private-equity firms and corporates take advantage of suppressed prices in London.

Wood is the latest UK company to be targeted by private equity.

One of the biggest private-equity takeovers in recent years was that of the supermarket chain Morrisons. New York-based Clayton, Dubilier & Rice took it over in a £7billion buyout in October 2021.

Wood's worldwide workforce is now around 37,000, with more than 6,000 of them in the UK.

The Granite City team currently totals 4,500.

Huge opportunity

The business has come a long way since Sir Ian Wood saw the huge opportunity presented by the birth of the UK offshore oil industry in the 1970s.

The inspirational entrepreneur transformed the family-owned fishing operation into a multinational oil services company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Wood now has an annual turnover of more than £4billion, and the order book for this year currently stands at nearly £5billion.

Energy services are responsible for two-thirds of its business, while materials make up the other third.

Materials is a wide-ranging sector which takes in everything from designing facilities for pharmaceutical companies to delivering projects in the transportation and water sectors.

FTSE 100

The UK's top share index, the FTSE 100, was down again by 50 points shortly after opening this morning to 7,284, following Friday’s 74-point loss.

Brent crude futures plunged by 2.71% to $70.99 a barrel.

Companies reporting today

  • Full-year results: Computacenter.

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