14/07/2017 - 11:20

Programmed receives $780m takeover offer

14/07/2017 - 11:20

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Investors have welcomed news this morning that Programmed Maintenance Services will be purchased by a Japanese staffing company for about $780 million in cash.

Programmed receives $780m takeover offer
Chris Sutherland will stay on as managing director of Programmed. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Investors have welcomed news this morning that Programmed Maintenance Services will be purchased by a Japanese staffing company for about $780 million in cash.

Programmed directors have unanimously backed PERSOL Holdings’ cash offer of $3.02 per share to wholly acquire the Perth-based business, which represents a 69 per cent premium to its three-month volume-weighted average price.

As part of the agreement, Programmed will continue to operate under its current business model and with its existing employees and customers, with managing director Christopher Sutherland to remain at the helm and also eventually join Persol’s management team.

“I’ve committed to remain being the managing director of Programmed and running the company here in Australia and New Zealand, and additionally I will become part of Persol’s global management team in the medium term,” Mr Sutherland told Business News.

“We’re going to be looking at what the opportunities are in terms of staffing solutions in the Asia Pacific, as well as consider how we can extend Persol’s maintenance and facility management footprint into Asia over time.”

Shares in Programmed, which acquired Melbourne-based Skilled Group for $424 million in late 2015, were up 65.2 per cent to $2.97 each at 11:15am.

Programmed chairman Bruce Brook said while Programmed wasn’t looking for a buyer, the board felt that its share price didn’t reflect the value of the company.

“We didn’t intend on putting the company up for sale,” Mr Brook said.

“We would have liked to have seen a stronger share price in the past 12 months but we haven’t; but there’s no doubt in our mind that in the long term we would have seen an acceptable share price for our shareholders.

“But the offer Persol’s made us is what we believe to be a compelling offer for our shareholders, and we’ve moved as quickly as possible to bring the offer to this point.”

The deal is expected to close in October.

Programmed was advised by Macquarie Capital and Ashurst on the deal, with Greenhill advising Persol.

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