Canadian engineering giant to buy Atkins for £2.1bn

A pedestrian walks past the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. headquarters in Montreal

SNC-Lavalin said it expects to make £50m in annual cost saving at Atkins.

However, Liberum analyst Joe Brent said SNC could still face a rival bidder or Atkins shareholders might wait for a bigger bid from the Canadian firm. It has been agreed by the boards of directors of both organisations on the basis that no final dividend for the financial year ended 31 March 2017 will be paid by Atkins to its shareholders.

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and WS Atkins plc (ATK.L) announced that they have reached agreement on the terms and conditions of a recommended all cash acquisition of the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Atkins by SNC-Lavalin (GB) Holdings Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin.

It is expected to lead to the creation of a CAD-12.1-billion (USD 9bn/EUR 8.4bn) global fully integrated professional services and project management company with about 53,000 employees.

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"By combining two highly complementary businesses, we will increase our depth and breadth of services to position us as a premier partner to public and private sector clients", says SNC-Lavalin President and CEO Neil Bruce.

In its announcement, SNC-Lavalin does not expressly note layoffs, saying that Atkins' employees "will be a key factor in maximizing the opportunities that the acquisition will present", adding that the combined firms' executives "will also aim to retain the best talent across Atkins and SNC-Lavalin". "Together, we will become part of a larger global organisation that will open the door to new opportunities for further growth and development".

It will acquire WS Atkins stock for 20.80 pounds per share in cash, subject to approval by shareholders, regulatory and court approval. This position is underpinned by favourable trends in our end markets, our differentiated offering, and the benefits of our new growth initiatives, including our acuity advisory business, our positioning in the nuclear value chain and our focus on digital and technology.

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