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Aug 9, 2022

WSP Global to buy U.K. environmental firm as rapid-fire acquisitions continue

Christine Poole discusses WSP Global Inc

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WSP Global Inc. is extending its buying streak, as the Montreal-based engineering giant announced its sixth acquisition in 10 weeks.

The company said Monday after markets closed it has reached a roughly $975-million deal to purchase RPS, a consulting firm based in the United Kingdom with about $875 million in annual revenue and 5,000 employees worldwide.

The 52-year-old outfit focuses on climate change and energy consulting, an area where WSP has recently broadened its footprint.

In June, the firm announced an agreement to acquire a company called Environment and Infrastructure from British engineering multinational the John Wood Group for US$1.8 billion, growing its ranks by 6,000 workers.

Last week, WSP said it signed a deal to take over two real estate and infrastructure consultancy businesses from London-based Capita for about $94 million, expanding its payroll by another 1,000 employees.

On Tuesday, WSP said its revenues grew to $2.76 billion in its second quarter from $2.63 billion a year earlier.

It reported net earnings attributable to shareholders of $89.3 million in the three months ended June 30, down from $120 million in the same period last year.

On an adjusted basis, net earnings rose to $1.30 per share from $1.26 per share, roughly in line with analyst expectations, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

WSP said its backlog also continued to grow last quarter, ballooning 19 per cent to $11.45 billion from $9.63 billion 12 months earlier.

Once a boutique firm called Genivar, the 63-year-old company swelled to 57,500 employees by June 30 from 31,700 at the end of 2014. The recent spate of purchases will bring its workforce to about 70,000, said CEO Alexandre L’Heureux.

"RPS is a perfect fit as it adds depth to our current platform and is highly complementary, in terms of geographies and sectors, to our recently announced agreement to acquire the Environmental and Infrastructure business of the John Wood Group," he said in a statement.

The RPS deal is expected to close in the last three months of this year.