Implenia completes Bilfinger acquisition 26 Mar 2015

Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk

Swiss building and tunnel construction company Implenia completes the acquisition of Germany-based Bilfinger SE’s Construction Business Division, in a deal worth approximately €230 million. The company intends to utilise the synergies gained to leverage its position in Germany, and in the currently strong Norwegian underground construction market.

Bilfinger SE (known as Bilfinger Berger SE until 2012) announced in May last year that it intended to dispose of a major part of its civil engineering business by putting up for sale its Construction Division, which covers the entirety of its civil tunnelling and road and rail infrastructure portfolio. The deal was finalised earlier this month (March) after international regulatory approval was granted in Norway, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Some 1,850 employees and a 2014 business volume of €650 million a year now transfer to Implenia, which is seeking to increase its presence in Bilfinger Construction Division’s core German and Scandinavian underground infrastructure markets – particularly Norway, which has just begun devloping a high speed rail program as well as a major program of subsea tunnel construction as part of an upgrade of its trans-European highway network.

Bilfinger underground construction contracts that now pass to Implenia include a 60% share of the €230 million contract from Norwegian Highways authority Statens Vegvesen for construction of the Eiganes tunnel in Stavanger, Norway – one of three tunnels being excavated as part of the larger world record subsea Ryfast mega-project. The 5km twin tube toad tunnel will allow direct connection of the E39 to the subsea tunnels, as well as providing relief to Stavanger’s congested city centre.

Rogfast and Ryfast subsea tunnels in Norway
Rogfast and Ryfast subsea tunnels in Norway

Successful completion of the Eiganes tunnel will place an expanded Implenia underground construction division in a good position to compete for a number of forthcoming subsea mega-projects in Norway for the same client – Statens Vegvesen. These include the 27km US$2.2 billion Rogfast project, for which construction procurement is expected to start in 2016 pending final approval from the Norwegian Parliament. Looking further ahead, core drilling is under way ahead of design of the 15.5km Romsdal subsea highway tunnel, which is scheduled for construction start in 2018, again with Statens Vegvesen as the client.

“The combination with Bilfinger Construction creates a strong technical platform in attractive European markets, facilitating successful exploitation of the infrastructure megatrend in areas such as mobility and energy,” said Philipp Bircher of Implenia.

“The two companies have complementary and attractive core markets, allowing Implenia to benefit from the long-term growth of the infrastructure market in Europe and increase the group's operational growth sustainably. In future, Implenia will have the critical mass in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia to leverage its track record and acquire and execute a greater number of complex projects.”

Drill+blast excavations at Gotthard
Drill+blast excavations at Gotthard Base Tunnel

Over the last 15 years Implenia and Bilfinger Construction have successfully tackled numerous major projects together, including excavations for the Gotthard Base Tunnel and the Zurich Cross-City Link. For the Gotthard Tunnel, the two companies were part of a larger consortium that completed the major Sedrun section of 11km of drill+blast headings at the bottom of two 800m deep access shafts. Implenia was further involved, as part of a different consortium, in two lots of 14km and 11km of TBM excavations.

Herbert Bodner, Chairman of the Executive Board at Bilfinger SE, said: “Parting with what has been our traditional business for such a long time is not easy for us. It is therefore all the more pleasing that we have found a buyer like Implenia, one of Europe's most renowned construction companies. We are certain that we are putting the Construction Division in good hands. It will have very good development prospects in the new group of companies.”

Bilfinger, which can date its history back to 1880, will now focus its activities on real estate, power plants and industrial construction, and is currently in talks with a number of companies regarding the separate sale of its Polish Construction Division.

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