The Australian Financial Review

Jul 5 2018

by  Sarah Thompson  Anthony Macdonald

Hong Kong and Singapore-based alternatives manager OCP Asia has emerged as a backer of another Queensland-based company seeking a place on the ASX boards.

Street Talk understands the company is engineering services firm Bothar Boring & Tunnelling which is weighing a local initial public offering after firming up OCP’s support.

Bothar is said to have secured a $60 million debt facility this month from OCP and is expected to use the capital injection to fund growth, before lining up for an ASX listing slated for early 2019.

Founded in 1991, Bothar is a tunnelling contractor specialising in micro-tunnelling. As well as its Australian operations, Bothar has been operating in the Middle East since 2010.

It’s owned by a handful of individuals including chief executive Noel Kerr.

The company is expected to seek about a $300 million to $400 million valuation for its listing, which would put it firmly in contention for a berth in the ASX300.

Bothar is also backed by Qatari engineering and construction company, Petroserv, which owns a 49 per cent stake. Petroserv is one investor believed to be keen to sell down its stake as part of the planned sharemarket float.

It’s not the first time OCP Asia has made such a bet. The manager knows Australia well and earlier this year more than doubled its investment in heavy earthmoving equipment rental firm Ackroyd Group ahead of a likely ASX listing.

That Queensland-based company has recently rebranded to be called National Plant & Equipment.

OCP Asia provides debt throughout the region but told The Australian Financial Review in early 2017 that they expected to lend even more in Australia, which has a favourable regulatory regime for creditors.

 Bothar has offices in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Qatar, Dubai, Kuwait, South Africa, UK and Ireland and Ghana, and known plans to expand into other areas.