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Italian group Webuild has announced that it has reached a conditional agreement to acquire the entire share capital of the Australian company Clough from South African JSE-listed group Murray & Roberts. Webuild constructs large, complex projects for sustainable mobility including rail, metro, bridges, roads, ports as well as hydropower which includes dams, power plants, water treatment and desalination plants, wastewater management, irrigation dams and civil and industrial buildings, airports, stadiums and hospitals.

CEO of Murray & Roberts Henry Laas said Clough needed a strategy to solve its working capital needs, which have become increasingly urgent.

“Having reviewed all available alternatives and based on the above background, the board of directors of Murray & Roberts concluded that a transaction with Webuild was the preferred course of action,” he said.

Murray & Roberts entered Australia a few years ago with the aim of diversifying its investments and decreasing its exposure to South African risk.

Webuild has a history of working with Clough on major projects, including its joint venture with Clough on Snowy 2.0, a hydropower project in Eastern Australia and its participation with Clough, and other members in Regionerate Rail, a consortium appointed as preferred bidder for the development of the Gowrie to Kagaru section of Inland Rail.

Webuild said it would establish an interim loan facility of A$30m for the benefit of Clough, which would enable Clough to continue trading until closing of the potential transaction.

“This is a critical step, as the ERI platform is in immediate need of a significant cash injection to service their order book and commercial commitments, which Murray & Roberts is not able to provide,” Laas said.

Clough was founded in Perth in 1919 and is wholly owned by Murray & Roberts of South Africa. It provides sustainable and innovative solutions in the design, construction and maintenance of plants and infrastructure in the energy, resources and infrastructure sectors. Its projects include the first high-rise in Perth, and the first major underground freeway tunnel in Western Australia.

At June 30, 2022, Clough had an order backlog of approximately €2.1bn, and approximately €2.7bn worth of projects for which it is the preferred bidder. Both the backlog and preferred bids are mainly concentrated in Australia and North America. Revenues for the 2022 financial year were approximately €1bn. In Australia, Webuild’s order book and preferred bids total nearly €9bn.

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