Keller has confirmed it is in discussions to acquire Moretrench Inc, a geotechnical contracting company operating predominantly along the east coast of the US. Moretrench is an all employee owned business and Keller said it had made this announcement as the fact that discussions were ongoing was now being communicated to a much wider group of Moretrench employees. It said that Moretrench had a strong heritage of complex geotechnical projects and, in 2016, had revenue of US$170m, operating profit of US$9.3m and EBITDA of US$13.9m (excluding US$2.3m of charges relating directly to the employee share ownership plan). Keller said it was envisaged that the acquisition, should it proceed, would be funded wholly in cash using existing borrowing facilities. Keller also said it expected future after tax earnings to benefit from US tax reforms. It said this was mainly due to the future reduction in the US corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, partly offset by a net adverse impact from other changes. Keller said: 'Our current estimate, which is subject to further analysis and clarification of certain items, is that the changes will reduce the group's future overall effective percentage tax rate by around 5% points to a number in the high twenties percent. 'In addition, we expect that the group's 2017 earnings will benefit from a one-off non-cash credit to the group income statement as a result of the revaluation of US deferred tax liabilities. 'Based on the net liabilities at the end of 2016, this credit is expected to be around US$10m.'
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