Surprise £200m flotation is intended to fight staff crisis in sector and raise acquisition funds

Quantity surveyor Turner & Townsend has disclosed plans to become the third QS to float on the stock exchange in as many months.

T&T, which had a turnover of £173m last year, will float 30% of the company on the support services sector of the main market in the first quarter of next year. The flotation is expected to value the consultant at £200m, with present shareholders and senior partners holding 68% of issued shares.

Tim Wray, the chairman, said the surprise decision was prompted by the desire to retain and attract senior staff, who will be able to buy a stake in the 2,200-employee business.

The decision comes in the wake of an acute skills shortage in the sector, which has seen the government put QSs on a fast-track visa programme in an attempt to attract professionals from abroad.

Wray said: “Flotation will allow us to help keep our existing staff and incentivise them. We have 35 shareholder partners in Turner & Townsend and with a main listing we can now open it up to incentivise some 200 senior partners.”

Turner & Townsend will follow Cyril Sweett, which listed in October, and QS Baqus, which is due to list on Friday. However, both Cyril Sweett and Baqus are listing on the junior market, the alternative investment market.

Baqus said this week that it aimed to raise £2m for acquisitions and increase turnover from £7m to £10m after the float. In a sign that more consultants may follow this lead it said it had been approached by other QSs about sharing information on the AIM listing.

Wray said T&T’s listing would raise between £70m and £80m. Wray said some of the money would be used for acquisitions, primarily in the overseas market.

Wray was bullish about T&T’s prospects. He said: “It is a difficult market in some ways and shares have come off their peak. But if you look at firms in a similar line of work to us they’ve done quite well in recent years.”