Groundworks firm expands down under with acquisition of £31m-turnover Waterfront Services

Groundworks specialist Keller has bought £31m-turnover Australian marine ground engineering specialist Waterfront Services for £21m.

Keller said that the deal, which could rise in value by a further £6.8m depending on future profits, could see Waterfront boost its presence beyond New South Wales and into other Australian territories through “strong demand for both land and near-shore marine based foundation services”.

Keller chief executive Justin Atkinson said: “As the demand for a combination of land and marine-based foundation services continues to grow, we are delighted that in future customers of Keller Australia will be able to benefit from a packaged solution which meets this need.”

The deal follows a profit warning by Keller last month that blamed tougher competition and poor weather in the US, and which saw its shares fall 21% from a high of 783p to 620p. They have not recovered and this morning fell 3% to 566p at the news of the acquisition.

Cenkos Securities analyst Kevin Cammack said: “It looks a sensible deal strategically, but the main fear will be that it is buying close to the top of the Aussie cycle and paying a full price if growth is not achieved.”