Boss Neil McArthur says Davis Langdon name will go from £79m turnover Asian consultant

Arcadis will pursue further acquisitions following its takeover of leading Asian consultant Davis Langdon & Seah, its chief executive Neil McArthur has said.

EC Harris’ parent company bought the £79m-turnover consultant this week to expand in Asia from 700 employees to 3,500.

Speaking to Building, McArthur said the firm still had funding available for other acquisitions in emerging markets in the coming months.

DLS was the Asia division of Davis Langdon until 2010, when partners at DLS voted against the Aecom takeover of Davis Langdon.

Davis Langdon and DLS had a formal collaboration agreement after the Aecom takeover, but this was terminated last month.

A source close to Davis Langdon said “referrals and opportunities” had continued between the firms but that “the end game [after Aecom] was always separation”.

McArthur said Arcadis had come to an agreement with Davis Langdon to drop its name from DLS in May.

He said the rebrand would retain and “emphasise” Seah, which is a “premier brand in Asia”.

He said the deal would help the firm leverage Arcadis and EC Harris’ built asset and project management expertise in Asia.

The tie-up would allow the firm to service multinational clients and help Asian firms “looking to globalise”, he said.

He added that the deal would also enable Arcadis to meet demand in the Middle East with “lower cost” resources from Asia.

The deal takes Arcadis’ global revenue to £2bn (€2.4bn), with a worldwide workforce of 21,000.

Arcadis said it had financed the merger by issuing 2.2 million shares to DLS partners, in addition to an undisclosed cash amount “through existing credit facilities”. The shares have a lock-in period of 12 to 36 months.

DLS was owned by 15 international partners and 42 local partners, all of whom will stay with Arcadis.

The firm’s chief executive Joseph Lee will also join Arcadis’ senior management committee. The other partners will continue as regional and country directors.

Davis Langdon & Seah

  • £79m turnover with 2,800 staff
  • 37 office locations including mainland China (14 offices, 1,050 people), Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea, India and affiliates in Malaysia and Brunei
  • Claims to hold number one or two market position in its field in all the countries in which it operates

Industry reaction

Richard Steer, Gleeds: “It’s a clear sign of the globalisation of the QS market. Quantity surveying has always been strong in Asia; the problem is it has always been just cost calculation. What we are trying to do is bring in a higher value product and get better fees. Davis Langdon & Seah might move in that direction too.”

Dean Webster, Sweett Group: “It does make them a very strong competitor. We get value from being a global organisation and that was something that DLS was missing out on. With two firms, EC Harris and DLS, under Arcadis ownership I assume they are discussing the whole branding issue.”

Kane Wagstaff, Jones Lang LaSalle: “The EC Harris part of the business has excellent coverage in Asia but it always had a very ex-pat feel to it. DLS have traditionally been more local in their approach with local Chinese people in management. With the rise of China, having the ability to demonstrate leadership at a local level is seen as important.”