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WSP poised for major transport acquisition

News Business

CONSULTANT WSP said this week that it was poised to make a 'big acquisition' that would further strengthen its presence in the UK transport and infrastructure market.

'We are acquiring on a niche basis and sooner or later we will nd 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 added that the company was not yet seen as a 'premier player' in transport compared to Atkins and Mouchel Parkman.

Last week WSP released strong interim results for the six months to 30 June.

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 prots before interest and tax of £13.3M compared to £10.3M last year.

Margins were up 9% to 6.2%.

In transport and infrastructure turnover was up 13% to £61M, while first half operating pro s were up from £3M to £3.6M. 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 efciencies.

He added that the company was increasingly 'offshoring' design work to countries where cost bases were lower.

It has had an office in the Philippines serving its UK business for ve years and in the last six months has added a Delhi officce 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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