Consortium set to take over building group Siac

A consortium backed by French giant, Bouygues, looks poised to take over troubled building group, Siac, after the original preferred bidder for the company, businessman Brian Harvey, decided against going ahead with an offer.

The High Court appointed Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton as examiner to Siac Construction and eight related companies late last year, giving them protection from creditors, including three banks owed €42 million.

It is understood that a consortium made up of French group, Bouygues and involving Siac’s owners, the Feighery family, is likely to take the business out of examinership this month at a cost of between €12 million and €13 million.

The move is likely to secure the group’s core construction and engineering contracting operations and the 200-plus jobs that they support.

The Feighery family will have a minority holding in the rescued business. The consortium is also said to involve Siac’s former chief executive, Finn Lyden.

The group only recently emerged as the front runner to buy Siac. Businessman Brian Harvey, founder of construction and utility support business, Siteserv, was named as the preferred bidder for Siac shortly before Christmas.

However, it is understood he decided against proceeding with an offer following due diligence carried out in recent weeks.

Others in the race included Belfast-based building group, Lagan, Better Capital, the British private equity firm, led by John Moulton, which specialises in buying and turning around distressed businesses and Irish investor, Key Capital.

Bouygues is a global business with its headquarters at St Quentin-en-Yvelines, close to Paris. It has a turnover of more than €10 billion-a-year and earned a profit of €267 million in 2012. It has net assets of about €1.5 billion.

About half its sales come from France, but it has operations throughout Europe,Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. It employs 55,000 people.

Siac went into examinership owing €42 million to three banks, KBC, Bank of Scotlandand Bank of Ireland and a further €26 million unsescured creditors.

Part of its problems stemmed from road building ventures in Poland which the company said became mired in problems with the local authorities responsible for managing the projects there.

The group is taking legal action and is seeking about €113 million as a result. Siac suffered during the recession with its turnover falling to €113 million in 2012 from €265 million in 2008. Source: The Irish Times.