Wood not ‘too preoccupied’ with share price despite £330m wiped off market value

Robin Watson, chief executive of Wood.
Robin Watson, chief executive of Wood.

Energy services giant Wood saw more than £330 million wiped off its market value yesterday, despite results showing a strong financial performance in 2018.

It also emerged that Aberdeen-based Wood could face criminal charges in the Scottish courts because of “legacy” joint-venture payments – via a third-party – to Monaco-based Unaoil, which is at the centre of ongoing investigations into suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering on both sides of the Atlantic.

Wood chief executive Robin Watson said the FTSE 250-listed firm was unfazed by an 8.1% plunge in its share price, which traders said was due to debt levels not falling fast enough.

Mr Watson added: “We don’t get too preoccupied by a daily share price commentary to be honest. But equally we’ve got to make sure we focus on making sure we unlock value in our asset disposals.

“It’s difficult to know if there is any one thing that drives share price in any one day.”

David Barclay, head of office at wealth manager Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, said: “Today’s share price reaction is overdone in our view, and likely stems from a slower than expected deleveraging process following the Amec Foster Wheeler (AFW) acquisition.

“We continue to believe the deal was a good move, providing valuable long-term diversification benefits.”

AFW’s past trading with industrial solutions firm Unaoil could put Wood, which took over the business in 2017, in hot water.

Wood carried out an internal probe, which confirmed the payments to Unaoil, and notified the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service of its findings.

In yesterday’s results statement from Wood, which returned to profitability in 2018, the firm said it “could face potential civil and criminal consequences, as well as other adverse consequences for its operations and business.”

Mr Watson said Wood was “cooperating fully” with authorities and had a “robust” ethics and compliance process in place”.

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