The City has hailed Atkins’ £178m acquisition of Florida-based consultant PBSJ this week, which has boosted the firm’s North American business to more than eight times its current size

PBSJ, which employs about 3,500 people and turned over £518m last year, will boost Atkins’ North American turnover from about £69m to £587m. Atkins’ share price jumped by over 4% at the news.

David Brockton, an analyst at Execution Noble, said that acquiring a large firm in one go was a better move than making a number of smaller acquisitions.

He said: “Managing this process and building a reputation in a market [through buying smaller companies] is fraught with integration risks. This is a very capable management team that has taken its time.”

Keith Clarke, chief executive of Atkins, said the consultant was not on the hunt for UK firms despite the North American move.

He said the firm would not acquire UK firms at a time when many British consultants are understood to be looking for suitors in order to weather the downturn and public sector cuts.

In a statement, the company said its UK building design business had been “impacted” by the cancellation of the BSF programme, but workload in water infrastructure was improving.