Enviros snapped up by Alfred McAlpine

Two major environmental consultancy deals have illustrated how leading support services contractors are shaping the market. Alfred McAlpine has stepped into the sector with the acquisition of Enviros. Meanwhile, RSK has regained its independence, ending a relationship with AECOM.

Alfred McAlpine, which has paid £30 million for Enviros, had been conspicuous by its absence in the environmental consultancy market. Other engineering and support service groups, including Atkins, WSP, Hyder, Mott MacDonald and Faber Maunsell, have already built up a substantial presence in the sector, through acquisitions and organic growth.

McAlpine says the deal gives access to a high-growth market, strengthening its facilities management operation. The group’s civil engineering activities may also deliver opportunities for Enviros in areas like environmental impact assessment, but McAlpine’s facilities team sees the greatest synergies.

"They are running these large outsource contracts for people like HBOS and BAA and they’re increasingly being asked for advice on how to handle environmental issues," explains Enviros marketing director Nigel Clark.

Enviros achieved sales of £29.5 million in 2006. Its management team including chief executive Barry Newby will remain and the business will continue to trade as a separate brand.

Enviros dates from 1995 when entrepreneur Chris Evans brought together Aspinwall, March and Quantisci. Aspinwall, formed in 1972, was one of the UK’s first environmental consultancies. In 2002, Enviros was bought by a management buy-out team for £17 million, with equity finance from ECI Ventures.

Meanwhile, US engineering and facilities group AECOM has ended speculation over one of its UK environmental consulting arms, RSK ENSR, which faced an uncertain future after AECOM bought its minority shareholder, ENSR International, in 2005.

Just before Christmas, RSK announced a management-led team had bought ENSR’s shareholding in the business, which would now drop the ENSR name.

RSK will continue to operate from its Helsby headquarters in Cheshire. It has 300 staff across 16 offices. "Having total ownership of our company will give us the operational flexibility and freedom we need to expand into the markets where our services are in increasing demand," RSK chairman Alan Ryder said in a press statement.

The ENSR brand will also continue to operate in the UK. Following the split, ENSR will have a London headquarters, shared with sister firm Faber Maunsell, an engineering and environmental consultancy.

AECOM’s presence in the UK is dominated by Faber Maunsell. Previous acquisitions include Consultants in Environmental Sciences in 2000. ENSR has been operating in the UK since 1997. It now has 200 environmental staff in Europe.

ENSR and RSK say that, despite the split, they will work together to complete existing client projects and they plan to utilise each other’s services on selected future projects.

In ENDS’ analysis of the consultancy market last year, RSK ENSR ranked among the top ten in six work areas, including contaminated land, environmental impact assessment and environmental management systems.

Enviros holds a strong position in eight areas, including waste management, sustainable energy and corporate strategy.

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