QSs fear Aecom’s DL takeover could cut work
A number of large QSs have sought assurances from Aecom that its £204m acquisition of Davis Langdon will not damage their relationship with it, or mean they lose future work, Building reported.
Their anxiety was triggered by the announcement of a deal between the £3.8bn American multidisciplinary consultant and the £208m-turnover UK QS last week. Aecom is to hold talks with concerned firms before the deal completes in October.
EC Harris, Cyril Sweett, T&T and G&T have all sought reassurances that they will not be frozen out of work
One senior Aecom source confirmed: “We’ve received calls from Turner & Townsend (T&T), Gardiner & Theobald, EC Harris and Cyril Sweett.”
The source said the firms had been told it would be business as usual for the foreseeable future. “We’ve got umpteen contracts with these firms and we won’t lose those relationships because of this deal. Things may change over time but the impact shouldn’t be too large.”
DL is undertaking a series of roadshows to explain the deal to staff. Rob Smith, the firm’s senior partner, has been at pains to explain its merits to clients, who have given a mixed reaction.
Meanwhile, some of DL’s rivals have said its loss of independence could be a boost to them. One senior figure at a large rival said: “There’s a mischievous delight that DL is no longer independent. It’s like taking Manchester United out of the premier league.”
While he conceded that DL would have first refusal on more jobs on which Aecom was involved, he added: “Aecom has 45,000 staff compared with DL’s 2,000, which means it can’t provide resources for all the opportunities out there.”
Another view quoted in Building came from Tony Williams, chairman of consultant Watts, who said the merger was an excellent deal for Davis Langdon and as a result other consultants could sell for a higher price. “DL’s price tag is 75% of its sales [based on Aecom’s figure of $430m, or £274m, for the 2009 calendar year]. I’d expect 100% in a bull market and 50% in a bear market. We’re not in a bear market but conditions are pretty difficult, so this is a good deal for DL.”