After failing to buy rival Currie & Brown, consultant turns its attention to troubled QS

Consultant McBains Cooper is looking to buy QS MDA just six weeks after failing to take over rival Currie & Brown.

Building understands McBains turned its attention to MDA after Currie & Brown’s management blocked a potential merger.

It sees MDA as an easier acquisition target as the firm’s management has suffered a turbulent few months. In August, Building revealed that MDA’s managing director, former Sainsbury’s executive Charles Johnston, had left the firm after clashing with its board.

Following his departure, two board members involved in the row, Mike Jewell and Steve Jones, became chairman and managing director respectively.

Jewell told Building that MDA had not received a formal approach from McBains Cooper, but a source close to MDA said it had “shown interest” in the firm. The source said that, as a result of the management problems at the firm, it was seen as being ripe for takeover.

There has been interest in MDA from a company called KHK

Source close to MDA

The source said: “Already, there has been interest from a company run by MDA’s previous management called KHK, but MDA seems to be hanging in there for now.”

Michael Thirkettle, McBains’ chief executive, said it would be inappropriate for him to comment, but a source close to the firm said it was currently considering three firms of similar size to Currie & Brown, which has 18 offices in the UK.

The row between Johnston and the MDA management was because Johnston wanted to diversify the business beyond its traditional QS roots. This was resisted by the board.

MDA’s strength is its long-term relationships with blue-chip clients such as HSBC and Canary Wharf. Its UK headquarters are in Croydon and it has offices in London, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Leicester, Birmingham and Bristol.