THE DUTCH invasion of the UK construction industry is widening to include consultants, with Grontmij buying Carl Bro to create one of Europe's biggest consulting businesses with a turnover of £500 million and 6,200 staff.
A number of Dutch contractors have bought into the UK in recent years, including Volkerwessels and Heijmans, but the sale of Carl Bro for £97 million is one of the first major Dutch moves into consulting.
Grontmij chief executive Sylvo Thijsen said: 'I have followed Carl Bro very closely for the past five years and have been impressed with the turnaround that has been achieved.
'Both from a cultural and a business point of view there is a good fit between our two companies.'
Carl Bro, whose board includes representatives elected by the employees, lost money for four years in a row until 2004. In 2005 it doubled pretax profits to £10.2 million after turning over £188.8 million.
Carl Bro has 700 staff in the UK, with 1,100 employees in Denmark and 830 in Sweden, where the majority shareholder, investment group Bure with a 66.6 per cent stake, is based.
A Danish investment fund, LD Equity, owns 20.5 per cent.
Management owns most of the remaining stock.
In the UK, Carl Bro works on water, transport, environment and building projects.