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Apollo closes in on second takeover

Apollo is undertaking due diligence on four possible takeover targets after acquiring South-west mechanical and electrical firm Goldhall Electrical this month.

Apollo chief executive officer Dave Sheridan told Construction News the firm was eyeing a second acquisition as part of its strategy to strengthen its appeal.

Apollo was ranked 59th on turnover in the 2009 CN100, with its most recent results showing sales of £214 million.

It expects to post turnover of £350m for the year to 1 April 2010, and Mr Sheridan said it was aiming for £400m in 2010/11.

To do this it wants to expand both its geographical and sectoral coverage, hence the acquisition of Yeovil-based Goldhall, which gives it an M&E arm as well as a presence in the South-west.

Goldhall has more than 50 employees and will continue to trade under its existing name.

Mr Sheridan said it was an attractive buy as it had good relations with Apollo, a similar culture and clients in a region and sector Apollo was targeting.

He added: “We need to grow nationally in what we do. Clients are looking for more integrated services, and we now have an M&E offering.

“We are also looking for a repairs and maintenance firm. We know the big-ticket schemes will slow down but people still need to maintain what they have.

“We have got due diligence going on with four companies. We are looking for £5-£10m turnover.” Goldhall was bought with cash holdings, and Mr Sheridan said that Apollo was also looking to grow organically.

“We certainly won’t lose staff numbers this year. We will look for strategic hires,” he said.

The firm is aiming to win more work in Scotland, the North of England and the Midlands, Mr Sheridan added.

The majority of the contractor’s work comes in the social housing sector, but it also achieved about £50m of education turnover last year, along with £4m from health and £10m from other public buildings.

Apollo is looking to ramp up its social housing work, aiming to move from 60 to 200 units per year by 2012. “The country still needs houses,” said Mr Sheridan.

He also believes there will be a profitable niche for firms carrying out refurbishment jobs under £10m in value.

“I think there will be a slowdown in big projects such as Building Schools for the Future, and that there will not be many new schools in London - more refurb jobs,” he said.

The firm’s order book stands at around £800m, slightly down on the same time last year but “pretty healthy” for the market conditions, according to Mr Sheridan.

“We are still encouraged that there are opportunities out there, and we are ambitious to make the most of them,” he added.