Scotland may be at risk of losing of another stock-market listed firm as engineering heavyweight Wood faces calls to take radical action to boost its flagging share price.

Aberdeen-based Wood has come under pressure from Sparta Capital which says the sale of the business may be the only way to get a valuation it regards as acceptable.

The move comes months after Wood faced a £1.7 billion takeover bid from investment giant Apollo. The US firm decided to walk away in April last year after tense exchanges with Wood’s management.

Wood’s stock market capitalisation has fallen to around £970 million since then.

Sparta recognised that Wood had made progress with a three-year turnaround plan launched by Ken Gilmartin after he took charge of the firm 2022.

However, the investment firm said the gap between the intrinsic worth of Wood and the valuation implied by its share price had never been wider.

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Sparta suggested it may be time to recognise that the next chapter of Wood's journey could be best supported by different owners.

The London-based firm’s assessment has worrying implications for Scotland.

The sale of Wood could result in the loss of highly paid jobs at the firm.

Stock-market listed firms also provide valuable work for other businesses in areas such as law, accountancy and banking.

Scotland has lost a series of listed firms to takeovers by firms based outside the country in recent years, including engineering firms Aggreko and Exova as well as transport group Stagecoach.

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Sparta reckons Wood may be a victim of what it calls the UK’s mid-cap curse, under which firms that are too small to be ranked alongside global giants struggle to attract investor interest. Smaller specialists may also have an easier time of it.

“UK mid-caps have chronically underperformed global equities in recent years,” noted Sparta.

Scotland is home to other firms that would be regarded as mid-caps. FirstGroup has a £1.1bn market capitalisation.

Aberdeen-based energy services group Ashtead Technology has a £0.6bn capitalisation. However, the company has seen its shares rise strongly since it listed on the UK’s Aim market in 2021. Ashtead said that it grew profits by around 70% in 2023, to £27m.

One response to the problems identified by Sparta could be to move Wood’s listing to another market, on which the firm might attract a wider following, such as the US.

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Such a shift could lend fresh impetus to a process which has seen big names forsake the UK for the US.

Cambridge-based technology star Arm listed its shares on America’s Nasdaq in September amid reports Rishi Sunak tried to persuade it to float in London.

Those firms that are left on UK exchanges may have to fight ever harder for attention.