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Arcadis merger will not stifle 'ownership ethos', says EC Harris CEO Philip Youell

EC Harris will continue its traditional “ownership ethos” even as it faces the “natural” loss of its brand in the coming years, its chief executive Philip Youell told Construction News today.

Dutch consultancy Arcadis and built asset consultancy EC Harris revealed a merger plan this morning that will create a £1.45 billion turnover consultancy.

Arcadis will take full ownership of EC Harris LLP next month in return for three million shares and an undisclosed cash sum, subject to EC Harris partner approval.

Mr Youell said the EC Harris brand could be lost in the next three years, or longer, but pointed out that the transfer of shares and positioning of key members of management is a sign it is “continuing the ownership ethos”.

As announced today, Mr Youell will remain in his position and join the Arcadis senior management committee. Chairman Richard Clare will step into a wider strategic client development role in Arcadis, while remaining on the EC Harris board in an advisory capacity.

Mr Youell said the EC Harris brand has “huge value”, but that a change is a “natural evolution” as the partnership pursues growth and provides more services to clients, with the benefits of the expansion into additional markets the central reward. He added that uniting the two firms’ capabilities is “absolutely required in the current market”.

He said: “We are very clear that this is something we have done from a position of strength, which enables us to work with a partner that has the same view and the same cultural outlook.

“As part of this deal we receive three million shares.  At the moment we are a partnership of 180 partners under the LLP, which is 180 shareowners; so the shares will transfer from Arcadis and be in the hands of the partners.” He said staff will alsop receive share options.

Mr Youell declined to comment on the other firms that have been pursuing EC Harris. But he said names he had heard, including Jacobs, CH2M Hill and Hill International, were just rumours.

Picture: Arcadis CEO Harrie Noy (left), with EC Harris’ Philip Youell.

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