Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The global perspective

With the July 4th holiday behind us, I thought it would be interesting to look at how firms based outside the United States are doing...

* Balfour Beatty, the United Kingdom's largest construction firm, seems to be doing well. The firm, which operates in more than 20 countries, says it has won $400 million (Euros) in new orders through May and has $11.8 billion (Euros) of work on the books. Its engineering division also appears strong, thanks to a recent acquisition. The results come in spite of two surveys-- the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply said its Construction Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures overall industry performance, showed activity slowed at its fastest rate for at least 11 years last month while the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors found that construction workloads are falling at their fastest rate since 1995.

* File this under: We're not surprised. Stantec, the 9,000-person Edmonton-Alberta based firm that offers design and consulting services in planning, engineering, architecture, surveying, economics, and project management, added a mining practice to its service offering when it acquired McIntosh Engineering. McIntosh has more than 200 employees in its Tempe, Arizona, and Sudbury and North Bay, Ontario and had gross revenues of about $32 million (Canadian) in 2007. The acquisition is the latest in a seemingly endless string of deals for Stantec, whose philosophy remains to acquire firms and bring them under the Stantec name.

* Stantec isn't the only Canadian megafirm to make an M&A deal. Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Inc. said last week it was buying 25-person engineering and surveying firm C.J. MacLellan & Associates of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, according to The Gazette newspaper. The deal will strengthen SNC-Lavalin's presence in Nova Scotia. Also, IBI Income Fund announced last week that it will merge Page + Steele Incorporated, Architects with IBI Group Architects. Page + Steele will continue as a distinct division within the IBI Group of Firms, operating as Page + Steele-IBI Group Architects. The merger brings the IBI Group of Firms to 2,300 people operating in 64 offices.

* M&A deals aren't limited to North America, either. New Zealand-based civil and structural engineering firm Duffill Watts announced last week that it had acquired 45-person engineering consulting firm AC Consulting Group, according to The National Business Review. The move increases the size of Duffill Watts to about 640 people and raises its presence in Australasia and Vietnam. Also, New Zealand engineering firm Beca said last week it had bought Wollongong, Australia-based civil and structural engineering firm MBK South Coast. Beca will have 300 staff there following the MBK acquisition. Perth, Australia-based engineering services firm Neptune Marine Services said earlier this week that it would acquire Scottish company Subsea Engineering Services for $10.3 million, subject to Neptune obtaining necessary financing, according to The West Australian newspaper. The acquisition includes a three year earnout for Subsea Engineering Services, according to the article.

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