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Joining forces

Consultants File

AECOM's global expansion plans have been progressed by acquisition of Oscar Faber which, with Maunsell, will concentrate on developing the group's presence in Europe.

'Global consultant for the built environment' is AECOM's six word description of itself on NCEI 's 2001 Consultants File questionnaire. The nature of its response reflects the changes in international consultancy to suit clients around the world increasingly demanding multi-discipline skills with services delivered at local or regional level.

Large consultancies are becoming ever bigger through acquisition and merger to pursue major commissions. An important factor is the demand made by the more complex methods of procurement such as public private partnerships, DBFO and PFI.

Oscar Faber became part of AECOM in October 2001, Maunsell having joined in April 2000 (see Consultants File December 2000). The two will link as Faber Maunsell and concentrate on the UK and Europe, bringing AECOM staff numbers to around 1,700 in the region.

Both Oscar Faber and Maunsell have names that are synonymous with high quality, leading edge consultancy in Britain and overseas. Their acquisition has greatly expanded AECOM's portfolio of contacts: Oscar Faber has an extensive UK regional network and is well represented in Singapore and Malaysia; Maunsell is strongly represented in the UK with a major presence in Hong Kong, Australia and the Middle East.

The coming together to form Faber Maunsell now provides AECOM with a platform from which to launch further expansion throughout Europe. And what a formidable platform.

Oscar Faber is a major provider of building engineering and transportation planning skills. Maunsell's primary strength is in transportation, infrastructure engineering and water and wastewater, the latter services now marketed through the Metcalf & Eddy brand. The 'fit' is superb.

Larger clients tend to favour bigger consultancies which can provide business solutions through complete integrated services; so Oscar Faber and Maunsell should benefit directly through the cross selling that their joining encourages.

Beyond this, as part of AECOM both will be able to deliver centres of excellence in their own right.

Maunsell's long span bridge and tunnelling departments in particular are vigorously pursuing contracts in the US and Maunsell's UK-based staff will continue to play a part in the recently secured multibillion dollar Second Avenue subway project in New York, won by an AECOM Arup joint venture.

Such growth overseas was highly attractive to the boards of both Maunsell and Oscar Faber in turn, and a major factor in the recommendation to their respective shareholders to join AECOM.

Over the last six years turnover of Oscar Faber has more than doubled, from -37.8M in 1995 to over -77M in 2001.

During this period the company has focused on the development of staff, customer and other stakeholder relationships.

It was recognised earlier this year by The Sunday Times as one of the 50 best companies to work for in the UK, in a survey sponsored by the DTI and Learn Direct. Oscar Faber was also named in 2001 as one of the top 100 unquoted plcs in The Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCooper Profit Track 100.

Oscar Faber's chief executive Ken Dalton summed up the company's acquisition: 'The advantages for us are diversification and strengthening of skill capability, complementary fit with minimum overlap, increased opportunities for cross selling, balancing the impact of cyclical variations within international economies and extending our reach and relationships with principal clients.'

The advantages to staff members include the possibility of wider career development. and continuing involvement in ownership schemes.

For chairman and chief executive of AECOM Richard Newman, 'both companies have had for a long time a key strategic objective of continuing to expand to create growth opportunities for our people, both professionally and financially.'

Dalton has been appointed chief executive of the UK and European businesses with Peter Head, latterly Maunsell's chief executive, Europe, becoming corporate development director.

Head's specific remit is to 'support the continued development of AECOM's UK and European businesses'. 'We have been planning this expansion in the UK for some time and are very excited about the opportunities, ' he says.

Newman adds: 'Our combination with Oscar Faber will provide AECOM and Maunsell with the foundation to be a leader in Europe, which, with the US and Asia, is one of the world's three largest geographic markets.

'Europe is, and will continue to be, our priority area for expansion'.

File figures

NCE International's 2001 Consultants File lists AECOMMaunsell and Oscar Faber separately. Figures for the two of them combined, in certain key categories are as follows:

Total number of staff: 13,699 Total number of civil and structural engineers: 7,632 Building structures:

US-305.18M Rail/rail bridges: US-133.5M Transport planning: US-27.8M Waste: US-26.19M

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