Consultant WS Atkins has announced its first major acquisition in the USA.

It is to buy 100% of the shares of engineering consultant Benham for £32.3m. Benham is a privately owned, multidisciplinary architectural and engineering business with an HQ in Oklahoma City. It employs 750 staff and had a turnover of £69.9m in 1998. Founded in 1909, it provides planning and design services in a range of markets including transport, property and industry. More than 80% of its work is in the private sector.

The purchase will massively increase Atkins' foothold in the USA, and will strengthen its industrial capabilities, particularly in food and drink manufacturing.

The deal is subject to approval by shareholders of Benham and is expected to be closed in mid-January.

  • WS Atkins has been awarded a contract worth £70m over the next seven years to provide Surrey County Council's transport services.