US giant describes Halcrow as a ‘perfect fit’ after £230m purchase announced this week

Infrastructure and engineering giant CH2M Hill has admitted it is on the lookout for fresh acquisitions following its dramatic takeover of Halcrow this week, set to be worth a total of £230m.

Speaking to Building in the wake of the announcement, Jacqueline Rast - who will head up the newly merged firm’s operations outside of the United States from London - said Halcrow and its 6,000 employees had been the Denver-based CH2M Hill’s “top choice”.

She added that the firm, which is now 29,000-strong with more than 300 offices around the world, wanted to grow even larger.

“We do have a strategy of both organic and acquisitive growth,” said Rast, who is currently president of CH2M Hill’s facilities and infrastructure division. “In our key markets, we want to add resources if we could find like-minded organisations.

“We may choose to add certain skill sets in certain geographies but [at present] we want to focus on this deal.”

Rast claimed that the two firms, which have worked together on projects for about a decade, were a “perfect fit” and said Halcrow would enhance the company’s skills in its key markets of water, transport, facilities, environment and energy.

“Halcrow in particular will strengthen our transport expertise in the United States,” she added.

Negotiations between the two firms began in the summer and Rast said detailed discussions will be needed to decide upon a name for the new organisation.

“Halcrow has an incredible legacy and a strong brand and so does CH. We are going to appoint a team to look at the branding of both organisations […] but in the immediate future will keep both names.”

Halcrow’s chief executive Peter Gammie, who plans to retire when the deal goes through, said he did not expect redundancies because there was “very little overlap” between the two firms.

Under the deal CH2M Hill will acquire the share capital of Halcrow for £124m with debts and pension liabilities taking the full payment to about £230m.

Just over a quarter of Halcrow shares are owned by 1,100 employees with the remaining 74% owned by the Halcrow Trust.

The deal is expected to be completed in November.