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WSP agrees $400m Louis Berger takeover

WSP has agreed a deal to buy professional services business Louis Berger for $400m (£304m).

The global consultant said the deal for the US-based firm would develop its presence in continental Europe and increase its business with the US government.

The firm said it would benefit from Louis Berger’s expertise in a number of target sectors including water, environmental work, transport and masterplanning.

WSP president and chief executive Alexandre L’Heureux said: “The company is recognised for its expertise in sectors and services that WSP had targeted for growth.

“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.”

Based in New Jersey, Louis Berger employs around 5,000 staff and also works in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

WSP said the firm had net revenue of $480m (£365m) and profit of $45m (£34m) in its most recently accounts, with 70 per cent of turnover being US-based (excluding disaster response revenue).

Louis Berger was debarred by the World Bank in 2015 for making corrupt payments to government officials on two World Bank-financed projects in Vietnam.

The same year Louis Berger agreed to pay a $17.1m criminal penalty to the US Justice department to resolve charges that it bribed foreign officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait to secure government construction management contracts.

Two of the company’s former executives also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act charges in connection to the scheme.

WSP said it planned to pay for the purchase of the US-based Louis Berger with a term loan from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

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