We fought a shark… and won: Rider Levett Bucknall talks to Building

RLB-November-2019-Tom-Campbell

Sixteen years ago, venture capitalists tried to pick RLB clean. Dave Rogers asks three of its top team how it survived – and thrived

‘There was a massive danger people wouldn’t have got their pay cheques.” Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) board member Ann Bentley is recalling the time when the firm’s management clubbed together to buy out the company from a venture capitalist-backed firm called Citex in 2003.

The salaries of 250 people were on the line and the 58-year-old, who has been marking her 30th anniversary at the multidisciplinary consultant this year, remembers the final 12 months of Citex’s ownership with something approaching horror. “The last year of Citex was possibly the greatest learning experience of my life – it was also one of the most unpleasant years of my life. To watch these guys whose only objective was to get the maximum value out of it.” 

She shakes her head. “We regarded it as a career, they saw it as an asset.”

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