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Ramboll buys Gifford

Danish consultant Ramboll has acquired consultant Gifford for an undisclosed sum, it has emerged this week.

Last of the independents

Gifford LLP will join Ramboll UK to create a group with over 1,000 employees, signalling the end of Gifford’s period of independence.

Both firms said the acquisition equated to more of a merger in the UK market − both firms are of similar size. They are very closely ranked in NCE’s Consultant’s File 2011 in both staff numbers and fees rendered for the UK.

Gifford is ranked 35 with fees of £32.2M closely followed by Ramboll at 36 with £31M. Again Gifford nudged ahead in staff numbers with 585 − placing it at 34 − while Ramboll has 502 and a ranking of 35.

However, Gifford has a longer standing presence in the public sector infrastructure market.

Gifford chairman Gordon Clark said that the firm had been approached “many times” over the years and said that though many saw the firm as the “last bastion of independents” the downturn in the UK market led to the decision to join Ramboll.

“The world has changed”

Gordon Clark, Gifford chairman

“The world has changed,” he told NCE, adding that while Gifford had an overseas presence, he expected the buyout to unlock access to more work abroad.

Ramboll is strong in Europe, India and the Middle East, while Gifford has some presence in India, the Middle East and Gibraltar.

For Ramboll, the move will help to position the consultant as a more recognised name in the UK infrastructure market and it said the acquisition forms part of its strategy for growth.

“Ramboll in the UK is traditionally strong in the private sector and Gifford has an established reputation in the public sector,” said Ramboll UK managing director Charles McBeath. “Even office locations around the UK balance really well.”

Ramboll previously acquired WhitbyBird in 2007, only dropping the latter firm’s name after two years. Gifford will continue trading under its name for between nine months to a year.

McBeath said holding on to the WhitbyBird name had been critical in creating the recognition for Ramboll in the UK but the firm had more familiarity now.

McBeath and Clark said that the combination in the UK was close to being a perfect acquisition because there is very little crossover in the firm’s client list.

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