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McColl chemicals firm acquired in £42m deal

Jim McCollChemicals transport firm InterBulk, in which Scots entrepreneur Jim McColl is a director, is being taken over by Dutch logistics major Den Hartogh in a £42 million agreed deal.

The AIM-listed logistics firm, which specialises in chemicals, polymer, food and minerals, saw revenue fall 12% in the year to 30 September, to £225.3m.

Interbulk blamed the fall on destocking, triggered by falling oil prices, intensified competition in the liquid bulk storage and transport sector, continued restructuring of the European polymer industry, and unfavourable currency movements.

Its profit before tax remained flat at £3.2m, though it did see an improvement in its operating profit margin from 3.4% to 3.6%,

Earnings per share more than doubled from 0.26p to 0.55p, and net debt was reduced for the sixth year in a row, by £7m to £53.2m.

“The 2015 financial year has seen challenging market conditions with pressure on volume and margin”, said chief executive Loek Kullberg.

The offer from Den Hartogh Logistics of 9p per share values Interbulk at £42.1m and is a significant premium on its closing share price on Tuesday, which was 4p.

Interbulk’s directors unanimously agreed to issue a recommendation to shareholders to vote in favour.

“There will be significant business benefits for Interbulk and its customers from the transaction, including business scale, investment and growth and opportunities to further leverage the operational platforms”, Mr Kullberg said.

CMS Scotland advised InterBulk led by corporate partner Graeme Bruce, with assistance from senior ssociate Jack Letson and other lawyers and staff from CMS offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen, London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Moscow.

Scott Cunningham group finance director of InterBulk said: “I would like to thank Graeme and the CMS team for their superb professional work. We have been extremely impressed by and are grateful for, CMS’ advice and dedication.  This is a very complex transaction and at all times CMS have provided us with sound strategic and timely advice.  Excellent job – and although I know the CMS team are well used to these things, the effort and commitment on a 24/7 basis were also outstanding”.

InterBulk has been a long standing client of CMS and this transaction follows on from the innovative cash-box placing completed by the same team in 2011.

Commenting on the transaction, Graeme Bruce said: “I am delighted that InterBulk has announced the proposed acquisition by Den Hartogh, particularly as it represented InterBulk’s preferred strategy to realise the investment of its shareholders.

“We wish the team well in the future.  From a CMS perspective, the transaction further demonstrates the public takeover and M&A expertise that the firm has here in Glasgow.”

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