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WSP to acquire Parsons Brinckerhoff

In one step, WSP Global of Montreal is set to become one of the largest engineering companies in the world.


In one step, WSP Global of Montreal is set to become one of the largest engineering companies in the world.

On September 3 the company (formerly known as Genivar) announced that it has an agreement with Balfour Beatty to buy its professional services division, Parsons Brinckerhoff Group.

Headquartered in New York City, Parsons Brinckerhoff has approximately 170 offices and 13,500 employees on five continents. The company provides consulting services in transportation, power, energy, community development, water, mining and environmental projects.

The acquisition has “an enterprise value of US $1,242,500,000 plus an additional consideration for cash retained by Parsons Brinckerhoff of up to US $110 million,” said a press release. The boards of directors of both WSP and Balfour Beatty have approved the acquisition, which is set to close by the fourth quarter of 2014.

Balfour Beatty recently rejected a merger with construction company Carillion because Carillion had wanted to keep Parsons Brinckerhoff as part of the merger.

WSP said the acquisition enables WSP to become one of the largest global “pure-play professional services firms” in its industry, with approximately 31,000 employees worldwide. Currently WSP has around 17,500 employees, working in over 300 offices in 30 countries. (In comparison Stantec, another publicly-traded Canadian professional services firm, has approximately 15,000 employees worldwide.)

The press announcement notes that the acquisition expands WSP’s presence in markets like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. It combines WSP’s expertise in the buildings sector with Parsons Brinckerhoff’s expertise in transportation, enhances WSP’s presence in energy projects and will enable the firm to compete for some of the most complex projects around the world.

The statement said that WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff are aligned in terms of culture and corporate objectives. It said the acquisition will provide more opportunities for employees, while also noting that it provides “an opportunity to streamline support functions both at the global and regional levels, while maximizing connectivity and revenue synergies.”

WSP (formerly Genivar) is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It has been expanding and acquiring consulting engineering companies in Canada for several years and is one of Canada’s very few publicly traded engineering companies. As Genivar it acquired WSP of the U.K. in 2012 and changed its name to WSP in January 2014. Parsons Brinckerhoff is involved in many projects in Canada.  Halsall structural engineers based in Toronto is its building division here.

Pierre Shoiry, president and chief executive officer of WSP, said: “We are pleased to be joining forces with a firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff’s long-standing reputation and know-how as we expect this transaction to create an industry leader, with the ability to deliver more expertise and services to our client base across the world. … On the integration front, building on our past success of combining GENIVAR and WSP, we anticipate a harmonious process which will be led by executives from both firms, with an objective of bringing together the best of both organizations.”

George J. Pierson, president and chief executive officer of Parsons Brinckerhoff, said: “This tremendously exciting transaction significantly expands opportunities for our employees and services to our clients. The compatibility of our respective cultures, each focusing on technical excellence and client service, is strengthened by the complementary technical skills we each offer. I have full confidence that by teaming with WSP, our ability to enrich our communities through projects large and small is greatly enhanced, all to the benefit of our employees, clients, and stakeholders.”

To read WSP’s press announcement of September 3, click here.