US firm tabled winning £636m bid last month, trumping summer move made by Canadian rival

WSP has paved the way for firm Tetra Tech to snap up its third UK consultant in as many years after deciding not to increase its offer for RPS Group.

The California-based business, which was set up in 1966 and has been listed on the US Nasdaq exchange for over 30 years, bought WYG for £54m in 2019 and Hoare Lea last summer for an undisclosed sum.

Last month, it trumped an earlier offer from its North American rival for Oxford-based PRS bidding £636m for the firm – besting WSP’s offer of £591m made in August.

tetra tech

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Tetra Tech has already made two UK acquisitions in the past three years, snapping up WYG and Hoare Lea

In a statement explaining its decision, WSP, which is based in Canada, said: “WSP continues to value a disciplined approach to acquisitions to maximize shareholder value. With a strong balance sheet, WSP remains confident in its ongoing ability to capture future opportunities and deliver on its strategic ambitions.”

RPS, which employs consultants, designers, planners, engineers, and technical specialists, was set up in 1970 as Rural Planning Services and was listed 17 years later. It operates across a range of sectors providing specialist services to government and the private sector.

In its last set of results, RPS improved fee revenues 4% last year to £476m and returned to the black with a pre-tax profit of £12.4m from a £31.3m loss last time.

This morning RPS said it had sent a document out to shareholders about the Tetra Tech offer ahead of a general meeting to approve the bid, which requires 75% support. This will be held on 3 November.

In its latest report and accounts, Tetra Tech said it splashed out $151.7m (£125m) on four acquisitions last year – including the Hoare Lea deal. It said Tetra Tech’s group turnover had improved 7% to $3.2bn (£2.6bn) with profit up 16% to $279m (£231m).