WorleyParsons has asked the Foreign Investment Review Board to look at “possible creeping acquisitions” by Beirut-headquartered Dar Group as the ASX-listed engineering and consulting firm aims to fend off a possible takeover by its largest shareholder.
Dar, a privately owned multinational engineering and design solutions firm with more than 19,000 employees in 311 offices around the world, owns 20.23 per cent of WorleyParsons.
The WorleyParsons board “believes it is not in shareholders’ interests for Dar to further increase its shareholding in Worley by creeping acquisitions or for Worley to enter into a business cooperation agreement with Dar,” WorleyParsons said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Australian Financial Review reported that WorleyParsons had submitted a confidential 36-page document to the FIRB entitled “Worley and the National Interest” arguing that a takeover would be against Australia’s national interest.
“The Worley Board has considered the impact of these matters on stakeholders who are critical to its business, including shareholders, customers, governments our people and partners,” WorleyParsons said in its statement..
“Worley is the world’s largest provider of engineering, project and asset services in the energy, chemicals and resource sectors, and is entrusted with sensitive information and performs a vital role for customers and governments in Australia, the USA and globally on projects and infrastructure that are of a critical nature.”
WorleyParsons rejected a $2.9 billion takeover bid from Dar in November 2016.
Dar Group and the FIRB have been contacted for comment.
In its 2018 annual report Dar said it was diversifying its capabilities through its long-term strategic investments in Worley, which works in the energy, chemical and resource sectors.
Dar specialises in civil construction, describing itself as the seventh biggest international design firm and the leading one in the areas of education, airports and health care.
The company says it worked on everything from the renovation of the Niagara Falls in New York to Perth Stadium to Dubai International Airport.
WorleyParsons is asking shareholders to approve a change in its name to Worley at its annual general meeting on Monday.
At 1126 AEDT its shares were up 2.8 per cent to $13.465.