PM Group ‘keen’ to make acquisition as its profits soar

Underlying revenue at the group rose 9pc to €398m, while its operating profit surged 30pc to €34.8m

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John Mulligan

PM Group, the Irish construction project delivery firm, remains keen to make an acquisition to expand its international presence, according to its top executives.

Chief executive Dave Murphy and chief financial officer Rosita Fennell told the Irish Independent that acquisitions in markets such as the United States, Germany and Switzerland are on its radar, and that the group would be open to a large deal.

They were speaking yesterday after PM Group released record results for 2020. Its underlying revenue rose 9pc to €398m, while its operating profit surged 30pc to €34.8m.

The company works around the world with a slate of blue-chip clients such as Facebook, Carlsberg, MSD, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Pfizer and Eli Lilly.

It helps to build complex infrastructure such as pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, food and beverage production facilities and data centres.

About two-thirds of its revenue last year was generated from the pharma sector, which PM Group described as a “powerhouse” for the company.

“We’d be open to a number of options if the right opportunity came along,” said Ms Fennell. “We’re very much focused and we’ve done a lot of research in the whole acquisitions space. We haven’t got anything over the line. There have been a number of opportunities that we’ve looked at seriously.”

She said that any potential deal could be a bolt-on in complementary services in the digital space for example, or something similar to what PM Group already offers clients.

“The key locations that we would be looking at would be the US, or western Europe in terms of Germany or Switzerland,” she added.

“We do have the ability and the capacity to go with a larger acquisition if the opportunity came about,” said Ms Fennell.

Mr Murphy said the targets the company has looked at so far typically employ more than 100 people.

“We’ve been very active but quite constrained because of Covid,” he said. “We’re very keen, but finding suitable candidates in our niche area is proving quite difficult.”

At the end of 2020, PM Group had net assets of €111m compared with €85m a year earlier, and minimal debt.

The company paid a €3.9m dividend to its employee shareholders last year, up from €3m in 2019. About 1,000 of its 3,200 employees are shareholders.

The group said it plans to add a total of about 400 new jobs this year, with 200 of those roles being created in Ireland.

International projects now account for more than 50pc of PM Group’s activity.

The company’s accounts show that of its total revenue last year, €204.3m was generated in Ireland. That’s down from €285.5m in 2019, before the pandemic struck

Revenue in continental Europe last year was €153.9m, compared with €91.7m in 2019.