Senior quantity surveyors concerned over repercussions for industry if Canadian firm buys BCIS

Senior QSs have expressed concern over news that the RICS is in talks to sell its data and research arm, Building Cost Information Services (BCIS).

It has emerged that a Canadian-owned finance company, MDA, is in talks with the RICS about buying the enterprise, which collects data from RICS members and issues industry reports.

A spokesperson for the RICS denied that a sale was being contemplated. She said: “We receive approaches from all sorts of organisations all of the time. We listen to these offers but have no plan to sell.”

The news of the talks has sparked fears among consultants that they may lose an important source of information, or may be forced to pay for access to it.

Francis Ives, chairman of Cyril Sweett, said: “I don’t see how it can work because the BCIS gets its information directly from RICS members. I would think it would have to always keep a link with the RICS to survive. RICS members feed it and it does very little other research.”

Richard Steer, the senior partner at Gleeds, said: “Holding data is an important part of the RICS, so I’d have thought that selling off the BCIS would be difficult.”

Rob Smith, senior partner at Davis Langdon, said: “To hear there is talk to pass this part of the business on fills us with grave concern. For larger practices the BCIS is the second or third source of information but it’s the first port of call for smaller firms.”

David Bucknall, non-executive adviser on the RICS business services board, and chairman of consultant Bucknall Austin, confirmed that talks were under way: He said: “I’m aware of an expression of interest from MDA and preliminary talks.”

Bucknall added that the BCIS was crucial to the way the industry operated. He said: “The BCIS transformed QSs from measurement technicians to cost managers, value managers and advisers. It gives the industry an edge.”
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