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WSP poised for acquisition

Consultant WSP said this week that it was poised for a 'big acquisition' in a bid to make itself a premier player in UK transport and infrastructure.
'We are acquiring on a niche basis and sooner or later we will find a bigger one that suits us,' said WSP chief executive Chris Cole. 'We have got the money, we have got the banks behind us and we have got the appetite.''We will make a big acquisition in the not too distant future.'Cole said that the firm has already complemented its 19% organic growth with the strategic acquisitions of three environmental companies in Australia and, most recently, another design engineering business in Dubai. He was speaking to NCE as WSP released strong interim results for the six months to 30 June 2006.The consultant boasted a secured order book of £625M, up 16% on the same period last year, revenues of £216M up 19% on last year and adjusted profits before interest and tax of £13.3M.This translates as a margin of 6.2%, up 9% on last year.In transport and infrastructure Cole said that turnover was up 13% to £61M, but added that the company was not yet seen as a 'premier player'. Margins were up 5% to 5.9%.Cole said that high margins across the company were being achieved either through winning multi-disciplinary work or through internal efficiencies.He added that the company was increasingly 'offshoring' design work. It has had an office in the Philippines serving its UK business for five years and in the last six months has added a Delhi office specifically to serve its Middle East offices. A further office in East Europe to service its Swedish offices is being planned.

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