Engineer wants “large acquisition” to boost international expansion strategy.
Fast-growing consulting engineer White Young Green plans to boost its overseas operations by making a major acquisition.

The Leeds-based firm, which has a market capitalisation of £37.3m, is particularly interested in expanding in the Republic of Ireland and the Middle East, although it has not ruled out other areas.

Chief executive Richard Brayson said: “We have to start focusing on a large acquisition to make our drive into the overseas market more dynamic.

“The firms we are looking at have to demonstrate a track record and perform well in the market they are in. That’s the main focus of our attention, rather than geography.”

Overseas operations director Mario Donnetti, who was appointed in May, is overseeing the push. Brayson said Donnetti had already secured projects worth £2m in Germany, Greece, Egypt and Ireland.

Brayson added that the firm also planned UK acquisitions in specialist fields such as environmental engineering, management services and rail.

He said: “We are getting to a situation where we have pretty comprehensive UK coverage. The key now is to enhance our skills range.”

White Young Green has bought three firms in the past year. They are: Newcastle-based engineer and project manager Mason Pittendrigh, the consulting engineering division of Limerick firm Gibson O’Connor and the M&E consultancy arm of Tilney Simmons. This has led to a 30% boost in group turnover to £46m for the year to 30 June 2000. Pre-tax profit also rose, up 21% to £3.3m.

Brayson said the firm had formed three regional boards, for the North, South and Ireland, to keep up with its growth and to oversee the day-to-day running of operations.

The consultant’s turnover has risen 100% since it was formed in July 1997 through a merger between White Young and Ernest Green & Partners. Pre-tax profit has increased 144%. Brayson said the firm aimed to grow at a similar rate in the future. He said: “We are very ambitious. We have to continue that rate of growth.”