City sources said French parent Dalkia would retain the facilities management and Australian businesses. The buyout was expected to be concluded on Wednesday evening after Building went to press. The MBO has been led by Symonds chief executive Chris Booy and finance director Tim Piper. It also includes 10 senior managers. Booy and Piper were unavailable for comment.
The shift will see Symonds become a pure consultancy, with turnover falling £20m to £50m a year. “It is going back to being the intellectual business it evolved from,” said a source.
The core activities of the MBO, which will have 850 staff, will include quantity surveying, project management, construction management (through its subsidiary Woolf) and transport consultancy.
The 300-strong FM division, which carries out operational FM work such as catering and security, will stay within the Dalkia umbrella. The business will remain in the same building as Symonds, close to the City of London. It will have one floor and Symonds will occupy two others.
FM managing director Pru Redfern will continue to head the business for Dalkia, which has about 2500 UK staff working in FM and energy management. The Australian business, also staying within Dalkia, has about 70 staff.
No redundancies are expected, although 20 staff have been made redundant during the past 12 months as Symonds has reorganised.
It is understood that the board structure will be retained. Up to 100 Symonds staff are expected to be offered equity through a share-incentive scheme.
Dalkia took control of the FM arm in April, having decided that the consultancy side of Symonds was no longer a core business. Since then, a number of firms have been linked with a Symonds takeover, including WSP and WS Atkins.
The management buyout talks have been going on for three months. The source said other bidders dropped out two months ago.
Symonds’ work is split roughly in half between the public and private sector. Despite making an £840 000 loss before tax in the year to 31 December 1997, the source said the FM division and other Symonds’ divisions were profitable now.