SNC-Lavalin tables $2.6-bn buyout offer for British engineering and consultancy firm WS Atkins

Canadian engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc today tabled a preliminary offer to buy British engineering and consultancy firm WS Atkins for about £2.1 billion ($2.6 billion).

SNC-Lavalin has offered to pay 2,080 pence in cash, a 35-per cent premium to Atkins' closing share price of at 1,540 pence on Friday.

Atkins said that it is prepared to recommend the offer to its shareholders as long as they could reach an agreement on other terms and conditions.

"The board of Atkins has indicated to SNC-Lavalin that the possible offer would deliver value to Atkins shareholders at a level that the Board would be prepared to recommend, subject to reaching agreement on the other terms and conditions of the offer," Atkins said in a statement.

Founded by Sir William Atkins in 1938, Atkins is a multinational engineering, design, planning, architectural design, project management and consulting services company.

The Epsom, England-based company is UK's largest engineering consultancy and the world's eleventh-largest global design firm.

The London stock exchange-listed company employs round 8,000 people in 300 offices across 29 countries and has undertaken projects in over 150 countries.

A successful deal would strengthen SNC-Lavalin's foothold in Europe, which accounted for only 5.3 per cent of its sales last year, while Atkins generates almost half its £1.862 billion annual revenue there, according to Bloomberg.

Founded in 1911 by Swiss-born Arthur Surveyer in Montréal and merged in 1991 with its biggest competitor,Lavalin,  to become SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based company is one of the world's leading engineering and construction groups providing EPC and EPCM services in a variety of industry sectors, including mining and metallurgy, oil and gas, environment and water, infrastructure and clean power.

SNC-Lavalin operates in oil and gas, mining and metallurgy, environment and water, nuclear power, hydro power, the transmission and distribution of energy, thermal power, and a variety of infrastructures, including mass transit and heavy rail systems, highways, bridges airports and marine facilities, as well as industrial, commercial, cultural and healthcare buildings.