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Gibb sold by parent Law

CONSULTANT GIBB is to change hands for the second time in 12 years after its US parent company, Law, last week agreed to sell it to California based Jacobs Engineering for an undisclosed sum.

Jacobs agreed to buy Gibb after being approached by Law.

The deal will see Law retrenching towards the US market after using Gibb to spearhead a global expansion drive.

Geotechnical and enviromental services consultant Law originally merged with what was Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners in 1989 in the first of a series of moves which put British consulting firms under American control (NCE 3 August 1989).

Jacobs senior vice president of finance and administration John Prosser said this week that the acquisition would help his firm establish a foothold in the European infrastructure market.

Jacobs is the fourth largest consultant in the US according to Engineering News Record magazine. In the financial year to November 2000 it made net profits of US$74.7M (£49.8M) on turnover of £2.27bn. The business operates around the world but outside the US works mainly in the process engineering sector.

New York Stock Exchange listed Jacobs started to move into the US infrastructure market in 1999 when it bought American based infrastructure consultant Sverdrup Corporation. The Gibb acquisition is its first attempt to move into overseas infrastructure work.

Prosser said it was too early to say how the acquisition would affect Gibb as final details of the deal still had to be worked out.

Last year Gibb increased fee income from £61M to £61.5M and increased total staff from1,492 to 1,510.

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