Sky News reports that Kier has “walked away from” talks to acquire Tilbury Douglas but had no insight into why any discussions had broken down.
It was also Sky News that in January also broke the news that the talks were happening. We pointed out that ill-judged acquisitions were the source of most of Kier’s problems of recent years, losing £470m over two years before Andrew Davies joined as chief executive to just about sort it out by selling the house-building business and getting shareholders to pump in more money. In the year to 30th June 2021 Kier Group scraped a pre-tax profit of £5.6m on revenue of £3,329m.
The latest available accounts for Tilbury Douglas – then called Interserve Construction – show that it made a pre-tax loss of £95m in 2019 on turnover of £465m.
Kier has declined to comment on why it might have wanted to buy a loss-making millstone with unclear pension liabilities (Tilbury Douglas is the last remaining rump of the vestiges of Interserve). Not has it commented on what light bulb moment made it decide to talk away.