Renishaw Said to Face Uphill Battle to Sell Over Steep Price

British engineering firm Renishaw Plc is struggling to attract takeover interest because of a hefty price tag and list of ownership demands, people familiar with the matter said.

Rival engineering companies Hexagon AB, Schneider Electric SE and Siemens AG all decided against pursuing Renishaw, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. While several competitors viewed Renishaw and its technology as attractive, they were turned away by a high valuation that makes a deal prohibitively dilutive to earnings, the people said.

Renishaw’s Monday closing price translates into nearly 51 times this financial year’s estimated profit, more than 50% above the average multiple for a basket of peers, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The U.K. firm, which has a market value of 4.1 billion pounds ($5.8 billion), received only a limited number of bids by a mid-April deadline after more than a dozen suitors looked at sales documents, the people said.

The company could struggle to agree any sale at a premium to its current stock price, the people said. Its shares fell 5.7% to 5,685 pence at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in London, on track for the biggest decline in more than two months.

The identities of the bidders that submitted proposals for Gloucestershire-based Renishaw couldn’t immediately be learned. Danaher Corp., which was considering partnering with Fortive Corp., and Swedish engineering group Sandvik AB had earlier been weighing offers, the people said.

Renishaw is also seeking commitments from any new owners on research and development spending as well as maintaining local, high-quality manufacturing and jobs. Renishaw spent 66.6 million pounds on R&D in 2020, or 13% of revenue for the year, according to its annual report. Maintaining that level of investment could make it difficult for a new owner to cut costs and improve margins enough to justify a high price tag, the people said.

Founded in 1973, Renishaw sells precision measurement tools that help manufacturers produce and inspect components and keep machinery and industrial automation systems running. It also specializes in 3D printing parts from metal powder and sells products to a diverse set of industries, including health care.

It is exploring a sale with the help of UBS Group AG. The company’s founders, Executive Chairman David McMurtry and Deputy Chairman John Deer, are both in their 80s and would prefer to sell their stakes entirely. Together they own 53% of the company.

Should a deal fail to materialize, McMurtry and Deer could opt to sell down some of their shares in the market over time, the people said. They could also decide to place their stakes in a trust or keep Renishaw independent, according to the people. The sale process is ongoing, a person close to the company said.

Asian companies including Japan’s Keyence Corp. and iPhone maker Foxconn Technology Group have also been touted as potential bidders for Renishaw, and a surprise suitor may yet emerge, the people said.

A spokesperson for Hexagon confirmed the company had not made a bid for Renishaw. Representatives for Renishaw, Sandvik, Schneider and Siemens declined to comment, while spokespeople for Danaher and Fortive didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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