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US merger to create new top 30 consultant

UNITED STATES consulting giant URS last week further increased its presence in Britain after agreeing to buy Los Angeles-based consultant Dames & Moore for £368M.

The acquisition adds 250 UK-based staff to the 460 recently acquired with the takeover of Thorburn Colquhoun in February (NCE 4 February).

D&M's UK operation is part of a giant global firm with turnover of £750M and 7,800 staff spread across 30 countries. URS is paying £184M for the group plus another £184M to write off debts. The deal adds to URS' current £505.6M turnover and 7,000 staff.

D&M's UK operation generated fee income of £8.2M last year according to the 1999 NCE Consultants File. By comparison Thorburn Colquhoun's fees were £19.3M.

Final details of the takeover have still to be worked out and will depend on whether shareholders in the two New York Stock exchange-listed businesses accept the plan over the next five weeks.

Amalgamating the two UK businesses would create a top 30 UK consultant by fees rendered. Alternatively, Thorburn could be absorbed into D&M's more substantial European business.

The Thorburn Colquhoun business should complement D&M's UK arm. The only real overlap is in environmental engineering, where D&M is stronger.

Thorburn mainly specialises in civil and structural engineering while D&M is more involved in environmental engineering and construction management.

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