(Adds CEO quotes, analyst, details)
By Thomas Escritt
AMSTERDAM, March 12 (Reuters) - Dutch marine engineering and dredging firm Boskalis said it is not preparing to bid for smaller rival Fugro in which it holds a 20 percent stake, although it would be a “good fit.”
“We are not preparing an offer for Fugro,” Boskalis chief executive Peter Berdowski said after the company reported net profit of 490.3 million euros ($520.26 million) for 2014, ahead of the 457 million average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters. Revenue was 3.2 billion against analysts’ expectations of 3.3 billion.
Berdowski also said his company wanted the right to ask questions about Fugro’s poison pill provisions that protect it against takeovers.
The poison pill in question is an institute linked to Fugro called Stichting Continuiteit Fugro. It has the right to buy preference shares in two Curacao-based units of Fugro: Fugro Consultants International and Fugro Financial International.
But ABN Amro analyst Thijs Berkelder said he expected Boskalis to use its healthy balance sheet to pursue acquisitions. “It still has plenty war chest room left,” he wrote in a note.
Berdowski said Fugro had two traditional Dutch protective measures against takeovers and also an “obscure construction” on Curacao. Boskalis has taken legal action in a bid to have the structure dismantled.
“We have 20 percent in a company and somebody in the Netherlands Antilles can say at any time that they want to take it for themselves. That’s anachronistic,” he said.
Berdowski said Boskalis and Fugro were a good fit in terms of specialist market niches, fleet, and culture, and that Fugro had valuable specialist know-how, especially in subsea soil.
Boskalis has a track record of doing deals. In 2012, it took a majority stake in maritime transport group Dockwise, now its subsidiary, by joining with another shareholder.
Shares in Fugro, which specialises in prospecting for deep-sea hydrocarbon deposits, have come under pressure from low oil prices and their impact on oil companies’ spending plans.
Shares in Fugro were up 1.9 percent at 0819 GMT. Boskalis shares were up 2.4 percent.
Boskalis, which is involved in dredging, offshore energy, maritime transport and salvage, beat consensus net profit forecasts in 2014, partly because of 200 million euros in exceptional items including cancellations and rescheduling fees.
It made no forecast for this year, but said the outlook for offshore energy was mixed, while it expected the dredging and towage markets to be stable. It said it planned capital expenditure of 250-275 million euros during this year. ($1 = 0.9424 euros) (Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee and Jane Merriman)