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Global giant Aecom snaps up URS for £2.3bn

Aecom has announced it will buy engineering and design consultancy URS Corporation for US$4bn (£2.3billion)

URS, which ranked at 82 in this year’s AJ100, currently employs 25 architects across the UK, at offices in Belfast, Teesside, Manchester, Basingstoke and Glasgow.

Once combined with Aecom, the company will have 95,000 employees across 150 countries.

Aecom will acquire all outstanding shares of URS for a combination of cash and stock valued at $56.31 (£32.89) per URS share. Including the acqusition of URS debt, the deal is worth more than $6billion (£3.51billion).

According to AJ sister-title Construction News, the move will give Aecom ‘capabilities in the construction, oil and gas, power, and government services’ as well as improving its ‘integrated delivery model’.

Aecom said it expected to save $250million in annual ‘cost-saving synergies’ by the end of 2016.

President and chief executive of Aecom, Michael Burke said: ‘The combination of Aecom and URS creates an industry leader with unsurpassed capacity to deliver integrated solutions across Aecom’s existing markets. 

‘We will have the ability to design and deliver major civil infrastructure projects in sectors such as transportation and water.  In addition, we expect to seize opportunities to more broadly leverage our direct investment vehicle, Aecom Capital.’

Reuters reported Burke as saying that the idea for the acquisition had come following ‘a courtesy visit to URS after he was appointed chief executive in March’ when he met with URS chief executive Martin Koffel.

‘While we’ve been competitors in certain aspects, we quickly realized that the two of us were much more complementary that we had originally envisioned,’ Burke said, according to Reuters.

Koffel said: ‘This is a compelling strategic combination that we believe will benefit our clients, stockholders and employees. 

‘URS stockholders will receive significant, immediate value from the transaction and will be able to participate in the future prospects of the combined company, which we expect will be better positioned to compete for major, complex projects across a diverse range of end markets and geographic regions.’

Among the UK contracts reported by URS this year has been the appointment of a Flint & Neill and URS design joint venture to deliver detailed design consultancy services for the £600million Mersey Gateway Bridge scheme.

URS’s architecture work includes a number of projects for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, including the recently completed British Consulate Office in Los Angeles and a British Embassy building in Asia. 

Aecom last year added Lend Lease’s Russian operations to its business. It announced the addition of Madrid-based ACE International Consultants to its international development team earlier this month. Aecom scrapped the Davis Langdon brand last year having bought it in 2010.

Aecom was responsible for the engineering of this year’s Smiljan Radic-designed Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Hyde Park.

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