WSP acquires US-based engineering consultancy Louis Berger

03 August 2018 3 min. read

Montreal-based design and engineering services firm WSP has acquired Morristown, N.J.-based design and engineering consultancy Louis Berger. The deal expands WSP’s presence in the US and continental Europe, while also adding Louis Berger’s strong ties to US public sector clients.

Design and engineering consultancy WSP’s roots data back to two Quebec City engineering services firms founded in 1959 – GBGM and Les Consultants Dupuis Côté. The two companies merged in 1987 and acquired a number of other firms, rebranding as GENIVAR in 1993. The successful consultancy continued to expand, eventually taking over London-based engineering and management consulting firm WSP Group plc in 2012 – adding 15,000 employees and 300 global offices.

After creating the parent company WSP Global in 2014, the business further expanded with the acquisition of New York-based design and engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. The 2014 deal added 13,500 employees in 170 offices across five continents. 2017 saw a corporate rebrand of all businesses in all geographic regions to WSP.

Montreal-headquartered WSP has continued to grow in the last year, adding 5,000 experts in ten acquisitions in 2017. The largest acquisition was that of 3,000-strong Opus International Consultants, with offices In New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Canada, and the US. Fast-growing WSP currently employs about 43,000 people across 550 offices in 40 countries, and had revenues of $6.4 billion in 2016.WSP acquires US-based engineering consultancy Louis BergerNow the firm has greatly expanded its presence in the US and continental Europe with the $520.8 million acquisition of Morristown, N.J.-based Louis Berger. Founded in 1953, the design and engineering consulting firm has 6,000 employees across 50 countries worldwide, with particularly heavy penetration in the US and Europe. The firm has strong relationships with US local, state, and federal governments – with service contracts for the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, and the George Washington Bridge.

“We are pleased by the opportunity to have Louis Berger join WSP,” commented Alexandre L’Heureux, president and chief executive officer of WSP. “The company is recognized for its expertise in sectors and services that WSP had targeted for growth. This acquisition will also enable us to increase our presence in geographies we have previously targeted for growth, such as continental Europe. Lastly, it will increase our exposure to the U.S. federal sector since Louis Berger has developed expertise and built experience in governmental contracts.”

The firms are a strong cultural match, with complementary skills and geographies, according to a Louis Berger release. The transaction expands WSP’s capabilities and services throughout the world, allowing the consultancy to pursue larger and more complex projects.

“I am very pleased about the prospect of joining WSP, as our values and strategies are aligned and our operations are complementary,” said Jim Stamatis, president and chief executive officer of Louis Berger. “This will create new opportunities for our employees and clients. WSP and Louis Berger are known to each other as we have pursued and won many projects together. As a result, we feel very comfortable in the strategic and cultural fit as we join together.”

Louis Berger is currently providing project management for Doha, Qatar’s first metro system as the country pours billions into infrastructure in advance of the FIFA 2022 World Cup. The firm has also been providing emergency management services for temporary power in Puerto Rico after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and was funded by a loan from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). WSP is projecting US$15 million in cost savings from the transaction within the first year.