Move comes as international firms look to target high-risk projects and infrastructure work
American project manager, Hill International, is on the hunt to buy a UK quantity surveyor and has made enquiries to at least one firm in recent months, Building understands.
The $452m company has made enquiries to one mid-sized consultant in the past few months but was rebuffed, following several years of rumours that Hill had been stalking British QSs.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “Part of Hill International’s strategy is acquisition and we are always looking for a good fit, not just in the UK.”
In 2010, two top 10 British consultants were acquired by American engineers - Scott Wilson by URS in July, and Davis Langdon by Aecom in August.
One senior QS argued that international firms were keen to bulk up because only large firms could take on the “huge risks [of] Crossrail-like projects” and capitalise on the massive infrastructure spending in emerging markets, and that therefore more top 10 consultants would be bought up by US engineers in the medium term.
“The two nearest competitor [QSs] will go the same way as Davis Langdon. URS and CH2M Hill [which lost a bidding war with URS to buy Scott Wilson] will come back,” he said.
Project management counts for 78% of Hill International’s turnover and the rest is made up of work in construction claims.
Hill already does 23% of its business in Europe, and has 192 of its 2,500 staff in the UK.
The firm said it was “very disappointed” with a loss of $5.3m in the first quarter of 2011, which it blamed on withdrawing from Libya and the performance of its claims business.