AMSTERDAM Boskalis (BOSN.AS), the marine engineering firm that began buying shares in smaller Dutch peer Fugro (FUGRc.AS) in early 2015 with an eye to a strategic cooperation or more, said on Tuesday it had given up and sold most of its stake.
In a statement, Boskalis said it had cut its holdings in the Dutch deep-sea prospector, which once reached as high as 28.6 percent, to 9.38 percent.
"Despite our conviction that parts of Fugro fit very well with Boskalis, we recently decided to sell down our Fugro holding in steps," said CEO Peter Berdowski in a statement.
"This decision is on the one hand based on the uncertain market conditions which continue to prevail much longer than anticipated and on the other hand also the position of the Fugro management."
Despite Boskalis's advances, Fugro insisted from the start it was determined to remain independent and declined to enter strategic talks. Boskalis took Fugro to court in an attempt to strip away some of the company's poison pill defences but lost its case in May.
Last week, Boskalis sold its stake down from 28.6 percent to just below 25 percent. Although Boskalis at the time declined to comment on the reason, the move was widely interpreted as a signal Boskalis had given up on its pursuit of Fugro, and Fugro shares slumped.
Boskalis said on Tuesday it had sold shares to institutional investors in an offering after the close of trade Monday.
Boskalis said it intends to continue selling down its shares, though the overnight offering included a conditional 90 day lockup period.
"Through the gradual sell down we have taken away uncertainty in our own share and we expect to create more value for our shareholders going forward," Berdowski said.
Boskalis built its stake in Fugro at an average cost of 16.15 euros (13.54 pounds) per share. Fugro shares closed at 15.51 euros on Monday.
($1 = 0.9405 euros)
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)