URS to consider raising its offer as bidding war intensifies

US engineer URS Group is considering raising its offer to buy UK consultant Scott Wilson after rival CH2M Hill tabled an aggressive £189m counter offer this morning.

CH2M Hill said it would pay 245p in cash per share for Scott Wilson, after underlining its seriousness by buying 13.1% of the company in trading yesterday afternoon. In addition it said this morning it had “irrevocable undertakings” from a further 5% of shareholders to sell to it.

This follows a bid by URS of 210p per share yesterday. URS said it was now “considering increasing its offer to 245 pence or above” following CH2M Hill’s intervention.

Under the terms of its offer, which the Scott Wilson board recommended yesterday to shareholders, URS has at least five days grace period to decide whether to make a further counter-offer. Scott Wilson itself confirmed this morning that it considered CH2M Hill’s bid a “superior proposal” and had asked URS to respond.

CH2M Hill launched its aggressive bidding war this morning with a document setting out the details of its offer – which it said valued the firm at 182% above its share price the day before Scott Wilson admitted it was in talks over being acquired. The offer said that together the tow firms would create a larger and stronger group and be “an attractive international service provider.”

Lee McIntire, chairman of CH2M HILL, said: “We know Scott Wilson and respect the very capable people it has around the world. We believe that CH2M HILL’s model of employee ownership and our shared passion for customer service mean that our Offer not only provides shareholders with compelling value but will also provide the business and its employees with the best environment in which to fulfil their full potential.

McIntire added that he was hoping the bid would ultimately be able to be recommended by Scott Wilson’s board.