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Kier buys £180m-turnover McNicholas

Kier has announced the acquisition of utilities and infrastructure contractor McNicholas.

Kier bought the Elstree-based firm, which specialises in telecommunications, gas, power, water, renewable energy and rail, for an undisclosed sum.

McNicholas employs about 1,880 people and has worked for firms including Network Rail, UK Power Networks and Virgin Media as well as on the London Underground for Transport for London.

Major frameworks the firm is part of include UK Power Networks’ 12-year Capital Delivery Alliance, alongside Amec Foster Wheeler, Clancy Docwra and Morrison Utility Services.

As well as its Elstree headquarters, the company has offices in Belfast, Glasgow and Southampton.

According to its most recent financial results for the year to 31 March 2016, McNicholas had a turnover of £180m, an operating profit of £1.3m and an order book of £944m.

The company’s leadership team, including chief executive Barry McNicholas, will join Bedfordshire-headquartered Kier as the acquisition completes.

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Kier chief executive Haydn Mursell (pictured) said: “The acquisition of McNicholas builds on Kier’s strategy to accelerate growth and hold leading positions in its chosen markets.

“It is a highly complementary addition to our utility services business and enhances our presence in the power, rail and telecoms markets, with its long-standing client relationships.

“We are delighted that Barry and his team will remain with Kier to continue the growth and development of the business.”

Mr McNicholas added: “Our business has been servicing the rapidly growing telecommunications industry for over 50 years and our expertise and knowledge has given us leading positions in new sectors such as gas, power, rail and civil engineering.

“We are excited by the opportunities that joining a larger group gives our teams to expand and grow. It also provides our clients access to a broader range of capabilities.

“I and the team look forward to joining Kier and playing a role in delivering the Vision 2020 strategy.”

The acquisition follows a trading update from Kier in late June, where the contractor revealed it would take a £73m hit in its upcoming full-year accounts, after the closure of its Hong Kong and Caribbean businesses.

Kier sold its Mouchel Consulting business to WSP for £75m in October last year.

The contractor had bought the Mouchel group, which included both consulting and contracting arms, for £265m in 2015.

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