Bouygues Accepts Saipem's Offer

The board of directors of Bouygues Construction has accepted the EUR60-per-share bid of Saipem SpA for a 51% stake in its oil-services arm Bouygues Offshore.

In a statement, the company said there are "sound industrial reasons" for the merger, and that it is satisfied with the financial terms of the deal. The operation, first unveiled Wednesday, values Bouygues Offshore at EUR1 billion. Bouygues Construction is a unit of Bouygues SA. Saipem, a unit of Italian energy giant Eni SpA, last week said that after it had bought the 51% stake in Bouygues Offshore, it would make an offer to other shareholders to buy out the entire company.

Bouygues Construction owns 51% in Bouygues Offshore, with the remaining 49% floated in Paris and New York. Completion of the transaction is conditional on approval of competition authorities. In the statement, Bouygues said the transaction will have no significant impact on Bouygues Construction's 2002 financial performance. But it said the transaction will generate cash proceeds of EUR520 million, putting the company's cash position at more than EUR1 billion, and "enabling it to grasp ... opportunities when they arise". Similarly, parent company Bouygues SA "will significantly strengthen its financial structure ... enabling it to grasp the opportunities that are bound to arise in the difficult environment that prevails on financial markets at the present time," the statement said.