Exclusive: France's Altrad in talks to buy German rival Bilfinger – sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – French industrial services group Altrad is in talks over a possible acquisition of German rival Bilfinger, sources close to the matter told Reuters.

A logo of Bilfinger SE is seen at their headquarters in Mannheim, Germany, June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

The discussions are not yet exclusive and an alternative deal led by private equity fund Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) remains a possibility, one of the sources said.

Both Altrad and CD&R have offered more than 30 euros a share for Bilfinger, which has a market value of 1.3 billion euros ($1.57 billion), that source said, adding that any deal could be several weeks away and negotiations could yet fall apart.

Bilfinger and CD&R declined to comment. An Altrad representative was not immediately available for comment.

Tom Blades, who resigned as Bilfinger chief executive last month, said in November that the company held talks with private equity firms that made contact after Bilfinger’s share price plunged as a result of the pandemic.

A new CEO has yet to be named and finance head Christina Johansson has taken over on an interim basis.

Bilfinger appointed investment bank Perella Weinberg as an adviser after receiving calls from private equity funds following a deep sell-off during the first wave of the pandemic, people close to the matter had said. Clayton Dubilier & Rice and others had expressed interest, they said.

Shares in Bilfinger tanked by more than 60% at the start of the pandemic to about 14 euros a share but have since recovered to more than 30 euros a share.

Bilfinger shares were up 8.1% at 32.22 euros at 1531 GMT.

Last month Bilfinger confirmed previous guidance for 2020 results and said it expects a significant improvement in sales and earnings this year. Bilfinger 2020 results are due later this week.

Altrad’s 2019 full-year net profit was 202 million euros on sales of 3.1 billion euros, while Bilfinger posted an adjusted net profit of 49 million euros on sales of 4.3 billion euros.

($1 = 0.8294 euros)

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