WSP to acquire US consultancy giant Louis Berger

WSP has announced the $400m acquisition of US consultancy giant Louis Berger, adding 5,000 people to WSP’s workforce, predominantly strengthening its United States footprint, while broadening the company’s presence in continental Europe (mainly Spain and France), the Middle East and Latin America.

The acquisition significantly adds to WSP’s US transportation and infrastructure and environment and water sectors (including emergency management), while reinforcing the firm’s presence in the federal US market. Bringing on board Louis Berger will also complement WSP’s design and project management practices with extensive expertise in master planning.

The acquisition is expected to deliver approximately $15m in recurring cost synergies within a year and WSP management expect the purchase to be mid-single digit accretive to WSP's adjusted net earnings per share before amortisation of intangibles. WSP expects to incur approximately $50m in one-time integration and restructuring costs and the purchase price will be financed by an underwritten term loan.

Louis Berger has approximately 5,000 employees, predominantly in offices across the United States, with an additional presence across Continental Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (mainly India) and Latin America. 

With its US operations representing approximately 70% of its 2018 net revenues (excluding disaster response revenues), Louis Berger’s portfolio includes some of the most iconic landmarks in the United States, such as the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the Statue of Liberty, the George Washington Bridge and the World Trade Center and most recently has been providing emergency management services for temporary power in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. It was also selected, as part of a joint venture, to provide project management services to build Doha’s first metro and supervise construction of three World Cup stadiums ahead of the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

Commenting on the acquisition, Alexandre L’Heureux, president and chief executive officer of WSP, said: “We are pleased by the opportunity to have Louis Berger join WSP. The company is recognised for its expertise in sectors and services that WSP had targeted for growth, including water, environment (including emergency management) and transportation (including ports and marine), as well as master planning. This acquisition will also enable us to increase our presence in geographies we have previously targeted for growth, such as Continental Europe. 

“Lastly, it will increase our exposure to the US federal sector since Louis Berger has developed expertise and built experience in governmental contracts (including federal military and economic and institutional development). We will focus on integrating US operations and other regions that have proven to be drivers of growth, while pursuing the international restructuring Louis Berger had started.”

Also commenting on the acquisition, Jim Stamatis, chief executive officer of Louis Berger, said: “I am very pleased about the prospect of joining WSP, as our values and strategies are aligned and our operations are complementary. This will create new opportunities for our employees and clients. WSP and Louis Berger are known to each other as we have pursued and won many projects together and as a result, we feel very comfortable in the strategic and cultural fit as we join together.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2018.

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