AIM-listed Aukett Swanke Group (ASG) is to buy 27-strong practice John R Harris & Partners (JRHP) as part of a drive for more work in the Middle East
The AJ120 outfit snapped up an 80 per cent interest in the Cyprus-based practice which works with clients in Cyprus and Middle East for £897,000.
The remaining 20 per cent interest in JRHP will stay with two of the firm’s current directors, who will remain with the enlarged group.
JRHP has 27 staff which together with ASG’s existing international network of subsidiaries, joint ventures, associates and licensees creates an enlarged workforce of in excess of 370 staff.
According to Aukett Swanke, the practice had lacked the critical mass to bid for some of the ‘larger and more prestigious projects’ in the Middle East and that the buy-out would help solve the ‘regional capacity issue’.
In a statement Aukett Swanke said: ‘The impact of combining the businesses is highly significant for us as it considerably improves our market position and offer in the Middle East.
‘The acquisition will further provide the opportunity for some overhead cost savings and is expected to be earnings enhancing in the Group’s current financial year to 30 September 2015.’
Aukett Swanke indicated that it was interested in acquiring other practices earlier this year following a rise in profits. The outfit, which was formed in 2013 when Aukett Fitzroy Robinson splashed out £1.58million for fellow big hitter Swanke Hayden Connell Europe, saw its pre-tax profits for 2014 rocket by 155 per cent to £1.4 million.
The Group’s turnover in the year to September 2014 was also up by more than 100 per cent to £17.2 million and the company saw its workforce increase by at least 30 to nearly 220 staff members. Including its joint venture companies, the practice now has 357 people based around the world.
Commenting on the acquisition Auket Swanke CEO Nicholas Thompson said: ‘We’ve been seeking to augment our Middle East offering for some time and are delighted that we have been able to secure a major shareholding in JRHP. Its rich history, coupled with our own, make for a robust platform in both our scale of operation and design skill from which we can continue our expansion plans for the region.’
The purchase was made in cash funded from Aukett Swanke’s existing balances.