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  • Aton, owned by the German billionaire Lutz Helmig, has made a bid to buy Murray & Roberts (M&R).
  • M&R owns half of the Bombela Concession Company, which operates the Gautrain rail service.
  • Aton has offered shareholders R15 a share. Allan Gray has already agreed to sell its shares.

A German conglomerate has made a bid to buy Murray & Roberts, the company announced on Monday morning. 

Apart from being one of the largest engineering firms in the country, Murray & Roberts owns 50% of the Bombela Concession Company, which operates the Gautrain rail service. The other two shareholders in the Gautrain operator are two BEE investment firms, Strategic Partners Group (SPG) and J&J.

Aton, which is owned by a German billionaire and headquartered in Munich, told M&R it wants to buy out all its shareholders for R15 per share in cash.

M&R's share price closed Friday at R9.64, putting the offer at a premium of nearly 56%. In the first few minutes of trading on Monday, its share price exploded - up 47% to trade at R14.15.

Aton already holds a third of M&R and has also negotiated with Allan Gray to buy its 11% share.

Aton is owned by Lutz Helmig and his wife and two daughters. A medical doctor, Helmig started one of the largest European private medical groups, Helios Hospitals. His personal wealth is estimated at R31 billion.

Lutz Helmig. Photo credit: Fuldaer Zeitung

Aton has interests in medical services, engineering, and mining.

The board of M&R said in a statement it is currently reviewing the terms of the offer. 

Murray & Roberts recently announced that it was awarded new underground mining projects in North America and Asia to the value of R3.8 billion. 

Delivering engineering and construction services to underground mining was the largest contributor to the group's earnings in the six months to the end ofDecember 2018. Its revenue for the six months to end-December increased by 10% to R11.5 billion.

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