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Boskalis finally acquires a survey company

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After rumours have been circulating since the spring of this year Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V (Boskalis) has now obtained one of Fugro's competitors, UK-based Gardline Group. The company’s main activities include marine geophysical surveys, offshore geotechnical services and environmental surveys.

Established in 1969, Gardline Group operates from its principal office in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk and it was a second-generation family-owned business. The company operates 15 survey related vessels in addition to 25 smaller vessels including crew transfer vessels and survey catamarans.

Boskalis confirmed that the consideration paid including assumed debt amounts to approximately £40m. The current annual revenue level is approximately £60-70m. Based on the challenging near-term outlook Boskalis does not expect the transaction to be EBIT accretive within the next few years.

Gardline currently employs approximately 750 employees including a pool of 100 surveyors. The core geographical market is Northwest Europe, where Gardline is a competitor of Fugro in marine surveys. Gardline is a diverse business that include ownership of Real Estate agents, Security guard provision, Crew Vessel construction, Rope access, retail space planning  and onshore and offshore survey services.

Last year Boskalis announced that it sold all of its shares in Fugro N.V. (Fugro) for a value of €14.50 per share after it had acquired 28.6% of Fugro’s shares in 2015, a move seen as a hostile takeover. The two companies were locked in a dispute after Boskalis went to the courts claiming that Fugro shareholders should vote on one of the company's measures which protected it from such hostile takeovers. Fugro maintained that the measure was in place to protect its independent position within the market.

Boskalis' claim was thrown out by the District Court of The Hague in March 2015. The company appealed the decision but it was once again dismissed in May 2016 by the Court of Appeal in The Hague. The company then proceeded to dump its shares in December.

Boskalis owns VBMS, Stemat and Volker Stevin International and operates a fleet of around 1,000 units. The company carries out construction activities associated with the realisation of offshore wind farms.

Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis has gone on record stating "This acquisition will specifically help fulfill our strategic ambition to build a position in offshore survey. Gardline is a key player in the survey market with years of experience and a strong reputation. The acquisition will enable us to further position ourselves for opportunities in offshore wind energy, as well as to be well placed to take advantage of growth opportunities when the offshore market picks up again."

Gardline employees have now been told.

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