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White Young Green to ease up on acquisitions as profits soar

Consultant White Young Green today posted a 31% increase in profits for the year ended 30 June 2008 but has called a moratorium on its trend of growth through acquisitions.

White Young Green (WYG) chief executive Lawrie Haynes told NCE that the credit crunch had meant now was not a sensible time to be buying up rival firms.

"I have to say that at the moment we are cautious [towards making acquisitions] until values of companies fall down to reflect the fall in the market," said Haynes.

If WYG were to make any acquisitions in the forthcoming year, added Haynes, they would most likely be in countries in which WYG operate that are still experiencing GDP growth, such Poland, Russia and Turkey.

In the year ended 30 June 2008 WYG made three acquisitions: transport specialist Savell, Bird and Axon, Management Consultants Group, and Irish consultant P H McCarthy.

Haynes said that in addition the growth generated by incorporating these acquisitions' combined revenues of £22.4M, the skills they brought to the business meant they had also contributed to WYG's organic growth.

Revenue for the year ended 30 June was £282.1M, up 28% on the previous year's turnover of £220.6M. Pre-tax profits were £21M, up 31% on £16M in the previous year.

Haynes said WYG had managed to drive growth and profits in difficult market conditions through switching its focus, especially in the property market, from private sector to public sector work, and moving staff from a sector that it failing to one that is performing strongly.

"Over the year we have seen a 1% growth in our public sector work and we are continuing to see areas such as health and education as strong performers," said Haynes.

"As jobs come to an end we can transfer our people from private sector property projects into schemes in health, education and the like."

As well as stating his intent to hold out for the best prices before making any further acquisitions in the coming year, Haynes told NCE that despite takeover talk in the summer, WYG was not up for sale.

"On the 20 June we received an unsolicited offer, and both companies spent time assessing each other," said Haynes.

"Due to the current market conditions, the other company ultimately decided to withdraw. Discussions of a sale stopped there and that's where it ends. There are no plans to sell White Young Green."

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