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Coffey’s $43m bid for Farsands

RISK management consultant Farsands Solutions is the subject of an offer by Sydney-based environmental consultancy group Coffey International valued around $43.5 million. The play is the latest in a flurry of consolidation in the industry, observable in both companies’ growth strategies. Coffey’s offer, a combination of scrip and cash, values Perth-based Farsands’ shares at 27.5 cents each, a 17 per cent premium to their volume-weighted average price over the past three months, and has been endorsed by Farsands’ board, in the absence of a superior offer. Farsands shareholders will be offered $2.63 in cash and one Coffey share for every 19 Farsands shares held. In addition, Coffey will offer 6 cents for every Farsands listed option. Coffey is a specialist in the physical and social infrastructure markets and has a growth strategy built around a multi-specialist business model. According to Farsands company secretary, Jeff Broun, the businesses are complementary and a “good fit”. Farsands owns the project management firms Clifton Coney, APP (WA) and environmental consultants MPL, and last week announced it was finalising a deal to buy engineering and environmental services firm DASCEM. “We see a great opportunity to fuse the occupational health and safety businesses of Coffey and MPL,” Mr Broun said. Should the takeover be successful, there will be little change to Farsands’ management structure and operations, but rather they would replicate autonomous OHS labs, he said. Mr Broun said institutional investors common to both organisations had supported the offer, which if successful, would increase Coffey’s capitalisation from around $180 million to more than $200 million. Following the announcement, shares in Farsands have traded 4 per cent higher at 27.5 cents. Shares in Coffey were also up on the news, closing 5 cents higher at $2.59 on the day of the announcement. Both companies have been on a shopping spree of late, with Farsands buying an outstanding 30 per cent stake in its APP (WA) subsidiary earlier this month, in addition to its DASCEM acquisition last week. Prior to that Farsands bought Clifton Coney last year. Mr Broun said his company had been in talks with DASCEM longer than Coffey, and the offer had not altered its acquisition growth strategy, a cornerstone of the company, which was established in 2003 with the express purpose of creating a listed vehicle for acquisitions in the sector. But Coffey has also been busy, acquiring specialist mining and geotechnical consultancy, BFP Consultants, for $2.9 million in cash and shares, one day before its $43 million play. It is understood Farsands chief executive Peter Coney will take a senior management role within Coffey if the merger succeeds. His 25 per cent stake is worth $10 million at the offer price.

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