Sunday, February 25

John Menzies accepts takeover bid from rival Kuwaiti aviation services Agility | Mergers and acquisitions

Executives at the British aviation services company John Menzies have accepted a £571m takeover deal from a rival Kuwaiti, after rebuffing three previous offers.

A subsidiary of Agility Public Warehousing had made the bid more than a month ago, which was conditional at the time, although the John Menzies board said it would accept the offer.

The Edinburgh-based company, which offers services ranging from cargo and baggage-handling to passenger check-in and plane de-icing and refueling, told the stock market on Wednesday that it had agreed the terms of the deal.

Agility previously held a 19% stake in Menzies, which it built after first approaching the company. Its final offer price means Menzies’ shareholders will receive 608p a share, which the company said represented an 81% premium to the closing share price on 8 February, the day before it received an initial takeover offer from Agility.

Menzies will be combined with Agility’s National Aviation Services (NAS) unit, an aviation services provider that counts airlines such as British Airways, Air France, KLM, Emirates and Qatar Airways among its customers.

Aviation analysts said the takeover deal would allow Agility, which is listed on the Kuwait stock exchange and the Dubai financial market, to create the world’s largest airport services firm, according to the number of countries it operates in, as international air travel recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

The combined company is expected to have about 35,000 employees and a presence at more than 250 airports in 57 countries, turning around more than 600,000 aircraft a year.

Menzies’ chief executive, Philipp Joeinig, will become the boss of the combined group. The current NAS chief executive will take up the role of chair.

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Joeinig called Menzies “an outstanding business with a long and rich history” and said the Agility offer represented “a fair and recommendable price for shareholders which recognizes Menzies’ future prospects.

“The board of Menzies applauds the work that the Menzies management team have done to steer the business through the challenging impacts of the pandemic and position the business for continued future growth and the next evolution in its journey,” added Joeinig, who has more than 2.5m Menzies shares and should make just under £15.5m from the deal.

Hassan El-Houry, the NAS group chief executive, said Menzies shareholders would receive a premium for supporting the transaction. “This deal creates a world leader in airport services and unlocks value for all stakeholders,” he said. “Customers will benefit from Menzies’ operational excellence at more airports around the world and will be able to choose from a broader product offering.”

This latest development tops Menzies’ incredible corporate story, which goes back to an Edinburgh bookshop founded in 1833. The business later added newspaper distribution and a chain of newsagents, as well as other bookshops, before opening its first outlet in an airport in 1948. Menzies expanded into cargo handling in 1987, and in recent decades sold its retail operation and newspaper business in order to focus on aviation services.

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