Quoted building consultant WSP has expanded its international business with the acquisition of a Middle Eastern engineering company.

WSP has bought PHB Group, which is one of the oldest engineering firms in the United Arab Emirates and offers services including structural, mechanical and electrical engineering. It employs 100 people and has a £4m turnover.

The deal is for an initial sum of £500,000 and performance-related deferred consideration of up to £450,000 over the next three years.

PHB will become part of WSP’s existing business in the Middle East, trading as WSP Middle East. It will operate throughout the region with offices in Dubai and Sharjah.

The acquisition is part of WSP’s broader plan to expand in niche areas.

The enlarged company will work on transportation and infrastructure projects, traffic planning, structural and building services engineering and environmental consultancy.

The acquisition will enable us to tackle the Middle Eastern market

Chris Cole, WSP chief executive

Chris Cole, WSP chief executive, said: “The acquisition of PHB will strengthen our presence in the Middle East and enable us to tackle this enormously important market.”

Cole has turned the company around after tough times three years ago. Having announced debts of £56.5m in 2002, it is now in a position to expand through acquisition after Cole strengthened its infrastructure and grew the business organically.

Last year, WSP’s pre-tax profit rose 38% to £15m, on a turnover of £661.7m, up 22.5%.