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British buy provides URS market springboard

AMERICAN CONSULTANT URS plans to double the size of British-based Thorburn Colquhoun's business after buying the firm last month.

URS plans to use its financial muscle to help Thorburn expand its transportation business, extend its geographical presence and compete for bigger projects.

'We are looking to get bigger and to move up the scale in terms of project size,' said Thorburn Colquhoun chief executive Ian Wotherspoon.The American firm bought Thorburn Colquhoun after a year-long search for a British acquisition.

Thorburn Colquhoun employs 460 staff, of which 370 are technical. According to GE's most recent Geotechnical Services File, the company has 22 geotechnical and engineering geology staff.

Multi-disciplinary URS employs 7,000 staff and last year produced a turnover of $805.9M (£505.6M) from projects in the US and around the world. The company has a strong bridge and tunnel capability.

Wotherspoon said he accepted the URS offer because as a medium sized consultant he felt it was necessary for the firm to grow to survive. 'Generic growth would have taken too long and we would not have been able to make acquisitions.'

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