Rift opens as Watpac shareholders vote against BESIX takeover

Rift opens as Watpac shareholders vote against BESIX takeover

BESIX might walk away from Watpac (ASX: WTP) following this morning's scheme meeting where Watpac shareholders did not accept BESIX's offer to acquire a majority share of the company.

At the scheme meeting held in Brisbane, Watpac's shareholders voted against the resolution relating to the BESIX takeover of 50 per cent of ordinary shares for $0.92 per share.

Around 90 per cent of Watpac shareholders were in attendance at the meeting where only 67 per cent voted in favour of the proposal. This was not enough for the resolution to pass the 75 per cent threshold.

With shareholders voting against BESIX, the Belgium-based company is now reconsidering its future with the Australian contractor.

"[BESIX] respects the outcome but also views this as a missed opportunity for Watpac shareholders, given its plans to offer ASX-listed Watpac a stable future with the prospect of long-term value creation," says BESIX.

The company, which has been a shareholder since 2013, currently owns 28.11 per cent of Watpac shares.

CEO of BESIX, Rik Vandenberghe, who spoke to Business News Australia earlier this week, says BESIX is now reassessing whether it will continue to be involved with Watpac.

"We will now analyse the results of the vote and take the necessary time to thoroughly evaluate our position and future plans with Watpac," says Vandenberghe.

"We have indicated from the outset that we might review our substantial shareholding in Watpac if the proposal was not accepted. We acknowledge the overwhelming support of shareholders by number and are grateful for their support."

Watpac Chair, Peter Watson, reassured shareholders that the company was in a strong position despite the resolution not carrying.

"While today's outcome is disappointing, Watpac remains in a strong position, both financially and operationally, and our fundamental strategies remain unchanged," says Watson.

"The board is confident with the strategic direction of the Group and in the existing leadership team, and our focus will now return to our immediate objectives, being the completion of the current strategic review of our Mining business and further enhancing our Construction workbook with new high-quality projects."

"We will investigate how [BESIX and Watpac] will continue to work successfully together."

Watpac is on track to record a statutory loss for the fourth time in the last six financial years, facing an underlying net loss before tax of 3 to 5 million for the 2018 financial year.

Shares in Watpac are down 4.46 per cent to $0.75 per share at 1.03pm AEST.

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