South African giant WBHO takes stake in Byrne Group
Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO), which is listed on the Johannesburg stock exchange, has bought a 40% stake in concrete frame specialist Byrne Group for £12m.
WBHO group building managing director Paul Foley will join Byrne Group’s board under the terms of the deal.
“We see real synergistic benefits of working together, especially at a time when the UK construction market is strong and there is growing demand for our unique blend of construction skills,” Foley said.
In a market update to shareholders this month, WBHO said “limited growth prospects within local sectors” had prompted it to look at an entry into other markets. ”After due consideration the UK market was identified as offering the most potential at acceptable levels of risk,” it added.
Formed in 1970, WBHO has carried out major construction projects across Africa and is a tier one contractor in Australia. It has a turnover of around R30bn.
Byrne Group chief executive Michael Byrne said the deal would boost its “capacity to target opportunities that are evolving in the post-Brexit world of construction”.
The firm’s group pre-tax losses widened to £11.9m in its last full-year after problem jobs at its building and fit-out arms.
Turnover in the year to 31 May 2016 rose 10% to £329.4m.
Byrne Group, which was established in 1969, includes Byrne Bros, Chorus and Ellmer Construction. Among the jobs it has worked on is Bloomberg’s HQ, the Tate Modern extension, the Shard and London Olympic Stadium.