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Construction World Magazine India | WSP Global will acquire Louis Berger for $400 million
WSP Global will acquire Louis Berger for $400 million
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WSP Global Inc, Montreal, has agreed to buy Berger Group Holdings Inc, parent of the group of companies operating under the umbrella name of Louis Berger, a New Jersey-based international professional services firm, for $400 million.
The long-rumoured sale of Berger, at a multiple of about 8.9 times its earnings, is now set to close in the fourth quarter. It would add about 5,000 employees to the global giant's staff, with about 70 per cent in the US, the firms said on July 30. WSP has 43,000 global employees.
The company acquired Parsons Brinckerhoff in 2014 for about $1.4 billion and bought Ontario engineer MMM Group for $320.5 million a year later. Several other acquisitions have followed, including Norwegian MEP design specialist UnionConsult in March.
WSP ranks No. 6 on ENR's list of The Top 150 Global Design Firms, reporting about $4.1 billion in global revenue in 2017. Louis Berger ranks No. 49, reporting $731 million in global revenue last year - 44 per cent in transportation work, 25 per cent in the power sector, and 11 per cent in environmental-related work. About $80 million of the total is outside the US. The firm, which reported an additional $236 million in global construction management for fee revenue last year, and $68 million in global programme management revenue, according to ENR rankings this year, also boosts WSP's share in the US federal market.
James Stamatis, CEO, Louis Berger,
told ENR that he and the WSP senior leadership 'have not had those discussions yet' as to his new role and title in the combined firm. He also did not confirm whether, or to what degree, staff layoffs would be part of the firms' announced $15 million in cost synergies by the end of the first year of the merged company. 'Our goals include not only retaining Louis Berger employees but continuing to attract the best talent in our industry,' he said.
Privately owned Louis Berger now is set to be part of publicly traded WSP, with Canadian pension funds Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Caisse De DTp(tet Placement du QuTbec having major ownership stakes. Saying the firm 'has made significant improvements to our governance, controls and our board over the past few years as we've worked to reform the company', Stamatis added, 'While we are not publicly traded, we have developed our culture and migrated towards a publicly traded company mindset from many perspectives, so I don't foresee significant issues.'
There was interest from both equity and industry-specific buyers, 'but more strategics were interested,' says one source knowledgeable about the deal. According to industry sources, the deal was set to be announced at the end of last year but was 'shelved', says one, linked to continuing US Justice Dept 'monitorship' of the firm's compliance with a 2015 government settlement in a past overseas bribe scheme involving several former company executives.
That monitoring has been 'terminated', says the WSP-Louis Berger announcement.
Alexandre L'Heureux, President and CEO, WSP,
said the deal will provide the intended parent with a stake in market sectors and geographies it 'had targeted for growth'. WSP 'will focus on integrating US operations and other regions,' and pursue continued restructuring of Louis Berger international operations already in process, expecting to incur about $50 million in one-time integration and restructuring costs, he added.
(News reported by Engineering News Record (ENR))
WSP Global Inc
Berger Group Holdings Inc
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