American consulting giant Louis Berger is relocating to London in a major restructure that will see the firm target the UK infrastructure market.
The $1bn (£760m) turnover business will move its international operations office from Paris to London in November.
The restructure will also see Louis Berger enter the UK’s infrastructure sector with the creation of a UK engineering and programme management arm targeting major projects in transport and energy.
The move from France, which has been the company’s international headquarters for 40 years, is part of a plan to be closer to its private sector clients based in the UK.
The firm’s international chief operating officer, Peter Skinner, and international chief financial officer, Simon Hemming, will now also be based in the UK.
The changes come despite concerns that major companies would leave the UK following the EU referendum.
Louis Berger’s international president Thomas Topolski brushed off concerns over the vote to leave. “With or without Brexit, London would continue to serve as an international centre for engineering and business,” he said.
The firm’s new UK design and programme management team will target major rail, highway, energy, water and building projects and will appoint a UK managing director by November.
The company was unsuccessful in its bid to be shortlisted for High Speed 2’s £350m phase two professional services contracts, where it teamed up with Mouchel and RPS.
But Louis Berger’s senior vice-president and managing director for Europe Jesper Damgaard told Construction News: “We believe there are still a number of large capital infrastructure programmes in the UK that will start in the coming years and we are confident that our strengths play well to these projects.
“We are particularly strong in the development of large-scale infrastructure, which we believe will be an asset in the UK market.”
He added that the company would be keen to team up with more established firms in the UK on future projects.
Louis Berger has had a UK presence for more than 40 years but most of its work has been in transaction advice for clients such as High Speed 1.
It has completed more than 500 projects across Europe in the last 40 years and currently has 700 permanent and contract staff on the continent.
Its international work includes the redevelopment of New York’s World Trade Center and construction and programme management of the Riyadh (pictured) and Doha metro lines.
Mr Topolski said: “Relocating Louis Berger’s international headquarters to the UK is a strategic decision that supports both our growth in the UK market and our international growth, as the UK is home to many of our international lending, contracting and EPC partners, as well as the home country for a large pool of Louis Berger talent who play business and project leadership roles around the globe.”
The company currently has a number of UK nationals on its senior management team, including former Network Rail head of project controls Edward Searle and former Network Rail programme director for Great Western electrification Lindsay Vamplew.