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Sparta Capital urges Wood Group to seek sale, rethink UK listing

By Nell Mackenzie

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - Activist shareholder Sparta Capital Management is pushing British engineering services firm Wood Group to consider either selling itself or to reconsider its UK listing, according to a letter from the fund manager on Tuesday.

Shares in the FTSE 250 company were last up 0.1% at 0915 GMT at about 142 pence.

A representative for the hedge fund declined to comment on the letter and also declined to confirm how much stock Sparta Capital held in Wood Group. Wood Group also declined to comment.

Wood Group's share price performance has not matched that of U.S.-listed engineering peers Jacobs Solutions and KBR , the hedge fund said in its letter to the company, published on Tuesday.

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In the last 12 months, Wood Group's shares have lost some 37% in value, compared with a 8.6% gain for KBR shares and a rise of 24% in Jacobs Solutions.

"UK mid-caps have chronically underperformed global equities in recent years," Sparta Capital said.

Wood Group's future, "could be best supported by different owners, and we urge you to undertake a strategic review and explore the best way to maximise shareholder value, including a sale of the company," the letter said.

Last year, U.S.-based Apollo Global Management abandoned a $2.1 billion takeover of Wood Group after multiple attempts without citing any reasons.

Wood Group's share price now trades at a discount to that offer, the letter noted. The company's market capitalisation was $1.21 billion at Monday's close, while Apollo's bid had valued it at $2.1 billion.

Sparta Capital is a multi-strategy investment fund launched in 2021 by ex-Elliott Management investor Franck Tuil, and is based in London.

Wood Group planned to cut "hundreds" of jobs nearly a year after the collapse of takeover talks, according to March reports. (Reporting by Nell Mackenzie; editing by Amanda Cooper, Kirsten Donovan)