Whether it was true love or marriages of convenience, 2010 had plenty of matches through mergers and acquisitions - one of which became the industry’s worst kept secret …
The wedding of the year was undoubtedly the £204m union of US consulting giant Aecom and blushing Brit Davis Langdon in August (though no public holiday was granted).
Both parties were made to wait a long time for their big day, with rumours washing around the industry for months beforehand - Building first predicted wedding bells in February.
Preparations were marred by a series of delays while Davis Langdon partners decided whether they really wanted to end 91 years of life as an independent quantity surveyor. Eventually the Asian part of the business decided to go its own way, maintaining that it was strong enough to stay single. But the down-on-its-luck UK and EMEA business - though not sold for a pound as rumours had predicted - couldn’t resist the sizable dowry that £3.8bn-turnover Aecom brought with it. A stream of senior partners have left since the deal, which was accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth by a number of big clients, and Davis Langdon has subsequently said it will move in to more general business consultancy.
Gone in a puff of smoke
The year’s most surprising departure was that of Nick Pollard, the Bovis Lend Lease chief executive who in June announced he was stepping down after less than two years at the helm, amid talk of friction between the firm and its Australian parent.
But Pollard wasn’t the only one to make a sharp exit: step forward Ian McKeever, who quit Styles & Wood in December after a turbulent period during which it was forced to refinance in 2009. Tony Carey, the ebullient managing director of Berkeley Group’s St George division, and a main board director for 17 years, also beat a hasty retreat in September amid market speculation of a senior management disagreement, though both parties remained tight-lipped on the reasons for the departure.
One departure of which we had a little more warning at least, was that of Cyril Sweett chairman Francis Ives, who retired in September after 40 years at the consultant.
Also married …
Scott Wilson and URS
The UK engineer was bought by the US consultant in June after a public battle with rival CH2M Hill for control.
Morgan Est and Morgan Ashurst
The building and infrastructure arms of the contractor merged to form a unified contractor for big projects.
Deloitte and Drivers Jonas
The professional services giant snapped up property and building surveyor Drivers Jonas in January to make a £700m-turnover property consultant.
Nightingale and IBI
The Canadians are coming! This was the first of three major moves by Canadian consultants, as the architect was bought by Canadian designer IBI for £13m in June.
Anshen + Allen and Stantec
In the third Canadian deal, the North American consultant paid an undisclosed sum for the London-based designer in September.
Cyril Sweett and Widnalls
The UK QS bought China’s third largest surveyor in July, right after purchasing Aussie QS Padgham & Partners.
Jilted at the altar …
Crest Nicholson and Horizon Pizza mogul Hugh Osmond courted the bank-owned housebuilder but the firm’s banks rejected the deal.
Capita Symonds and Cyril Sweett Capita reportedly pursued Sweett but was put off by the latter’s own acquisition Chinese firm Widnell.