UPDATE 1-Boskalis ups stake in Smit, could buy more shares

Mon Feb 2, 2009 8:43am GMT

Quotes

   

* Boskalis now holds 25.07 percent of Smit

* Says Smit complements strategy

* Smit shares up 2.9 percent, Boskalis shares down

By Aaron Gray-Block

AMSTERDAM, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Dutch dredging group Boskalis Westminster NV (BOSN.AS) said on Monday it might buy more shares in Smit Internationale SMTNc.AS after a regulatory filing showed it had upped its stake in the maritime services company.

Filings with the Dutch stock markets watchdog AFM showed on Saturday Boskalis held a 25.07 percent stake in Smit, up from 20.01 percent. Boskalis was obligated to make the filing on Jan. 29, the filing showed.

The increased stake comes after Boskalis abandoned on Dec 4. its takeover bid for Smit after repeated rebuffs from Smit management. Boskalis said it would be irresponsible in the current financial climate to buy Smit without its co-operation.

"The oil and gas sector we believe is where we want to strengthen ourselves and some of Smit's activities fit in that segment," Boskalis spokesman Martijn Schuttevaer said. "Whether we will continue to buy shares -- it's possible."

Under Dutch law, the next threshold where Boskalis would need to report its stake is 30 percent. If it crosses that level, Boskalis would be forced to make a full offer for Smit.

"This news could fuel speculation that Boskalis would again pursue a takeover of Smit," Rabo Securities said in a note.

Shares in Smit rose on the news of the increased stake, trading up 2.9 percent by 0927 GMT, while Boskalis shares fell 2.6 percent compared with a 1.5 percent decline in the Amsterdam midcap index .AMX.

Schuttevaer said the way Boskalis views Smit and how it executes its strategy has not changed and upping the size of the company's stake fits within that perspective. (Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)