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WSP bought by Canadian consultant for £278m

Canadian engineering consultant Genivar has agreed to buy UK consultant WSP in a deal worth £278 million.

The Canadian consultant works in fields including planning, engineering and surveying on construction projects across sectors including energy, transport and traditional building work.

Genivar employs more than 5,500 staff in more than 100 cities worldwide. WSP employs more than 9,000 staff in 200 offices across 30 countries.

The company announced it was “confident” in its 2012 performance after several years of restructuring when it posted an interim management statement last month.

However its UK profit margin dropped by nearly two thirds to 1.6 per cent in 2011 in the face of tough public sector property and infrastructure markets.

WSP chief executive Chris Cole will become executive chairman of the board of directors of the new group while Pierre Shoiry will be the chief executive officer and Alexandre L’Heureux will be the chief financial officer.

Following completion of the merger, the existing executive directors of WSP (Paul Dollin, Rikard Appelgren and Stuart McLachlan) will retain their current management roles.

Peter Gill will remain with the group on a transitional basis prior to his departure which is currently expected to take place at the end of 2012.

It is expected that all the non-executive directors of WSP will step down from their positions following completion of the merger.

Mr Cole said: “WSP is a successful global multi-disciplinary professional services consultancy with stated strategic ambitions to diversify and grow. Whilst reviewing carefully our options to best achieve this aim, an exceptional opportunity has arisen for WSP to merge with Genivar, a similarly ambitious entrepreneurial yet complementary Canadian consultancy.

“I believe this transaction will provide WSP, our staff and our clients with enhanced opportunities and the combined entity will achieve increased prominence in the global markets in which we work.

Commenting on the merger, Pierre Shoiry, president and chief executive officer of Genivar said: “This landmark transaction is an important milestone in the history of Genivar. Genivar and WSP are highly compatible in terms of culture and strategic objectives.

Through the combination of our firms, we are creating one of the world’s leading professional services firms. Moreover, our firms are complementary with limited geographical overlap, combining talented teams to enhance the leadership and expertise of the global organisation.”

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