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WSP buys Focus Corporation of Western Canada

Another Canadian company that started as a few people in the 1970s and has grown to become a cast of thousands has been acquired — this time by a publicly traded company in Quebec.


Another Canadian company that started as a few people in the 1970s and has grown to become a cast of thousands has been acquired — this time by a publicly traded company in Quebec.

Focus Group, an engineering and geomatics company in Western Canada, is being acquired by WSP (formerly Genivar) based in Montreal.

Focus primarily serves the oil and gas sector and has four divisions: facilities, geomatics, pipeline and civil engineering. It has 1,700 employees in 21 locations throughout Western Canada.

A Focus shareholder meeting to consider the acquisition is expected to be held on or about April 2, and the acquisition is expected to become effective around April 17, 2014.

Under the terms, WSP will pay approximately $366.05 million for the acquisition. Focus had revenues of about $280 million for the 12 months ending February 2014.

With the acquisition, WSP will have a total of 6,100 employees across the country. It also represents an expansion into the oil and gas sector in Alberta, giving WSP access to upstream, oil sands, midstream, Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.

Upon closing the deal, David Ackert, currently president and chief executive officer of Focus, will become chief executive officer of WSP Canada and director of its global oil and gas network. Marc Rivard will continue as president and chief operating officer of WSP Canada.

Focus Corporation incorporated in 1977 as HDS Focus Surveys in Edmonton, servicing the oil and gas industry. By 1987 it had 30 employees based in offices in Edmonton and Calgary. During the 1990s it began to diversify, and in a partnership with Wright Parry, a B.C. firm, it began operating as Wright Focus to provide civil engineering services. Over the next years it acquired several companies, such as J.W. Sharpe & Associates of Cranbrook, B.C., George Munro & Associates of Medicine Hat, Alberta, and Hughes & Taylor of Victoria, B.C.

Pierre Shoiry, president and chief executive officer of WSP, said, “We are pleased to join forces with Focus. … Through this Acquisition, not only are we expecting to become a more important player in the Canadian oil and gas industry, but also to strengthen our presence in Western Canada. The Acquisition will contribute significantly towards our targets to reach $500 million in top-line growth from acquisitions and 20,000 total employees before the end of 2015.”

David Ackert, President and Chief Executive Officer of Focus added, ” Focus is a highly successful firm with stated strategic ambitions to diversify and grow…. Having been immensely proud to lead Focus for several years, my management team and I now look forward to start working with the entire WSP team to deliver value to all stakeholders.”