Connell Wagner merges with African firms

17/03/2009 - 10:47

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The Perth director of global engineering company Connell Wagner hopes its merger with two South African companies will boost the chances of winning work on major projects.

Connell Wagner merges with African firms

The Perth director of global engineering company Connell Wagner hopes its merger with two South African companies will boost the chances of winning work on major projects.

Connell has teamed up with infrastructure consultancy Africon (Pty) Ltd and engineering and environmental consulting firm Ninham Shand (Pty) Ltd to form Aurecon, with the name change taking effect today.

The combined group will be headquartered in Singapore and employ over 6,700 people across 87 offices in 28 countries.

Perth director Charles Milazzo said the three-way merger will create a bigger pool of skills and resources, which will be a major boost for its proposal for a major WA project, which he declined to detail.

Connell Wagner in Perth counts Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Main Roads, Multiplex and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure as some of its clients.

Mr Milazzo said some 180 people are employed at the WA division and the merger is not anitcipated to affect employee numbers.

"It depends on this economic situation; I would like to say that we're going to get bigger and bigger but at the same time we're at the mercy of the economy," Mr Milazzo told WA Business News.

"Where there are projects we will continue to grow and obviously if there's a slowdown that affects us and the clients we're dealing with, we can't rule out a small contraction.

"It's like all consultants in this market."

However, he said the increased geographic spread following the merger will help "smooth out those ups and downs in the economy", adding that the order book in South Africa is full for the next 12 months while WA's book is full for the next nine months.

Connell Wagner started merger talks with the South African companies in the middle of last year.

 

The announcement is below:

 

Connell Wagner (Pty) Ltd, one of Asia Pacific's largest and most experienced multi-disciplinary infrastructure consulting companies, Africon (Pty) Ltd, South Africa's largest privately owned infrastructure consultancy, and Ninham Shand (Pty) Ltd, one of South Africa's most established engineering and environmental consultancies, have today confirmed that they have come together to form a new multi-disciplinary global group.

The newly created group, called Aurecon, will provide professional technical services on large scale integrated infrastructure projects to clients across Europe, Middle East and Africa (AME) and Asia Pacific (APAC). Given the geographical reach of Aurecon's operations, the global group will be headquartered in Singapore and employ over 6,700 people across 87 offices in 28 countries.

It is anticipated that Aurecon will rank in the top 60 global consulting firms based on the anticipated combined revenues of the combined businesses.

Paul Hardy, previously CEO and Chairman of Connell Wagner, has been appointed Aurecon's Global CEO and the former non-executive Chairman of Africon, Professor Jakes Gerwel, will be Aurecon's non-executive Global Chairman. Dr Gustav Rohde, previously CEO of Africon, and Arnie Möhr, past Managing Director of Ninham Shand, will assume the roles of CEO AME and Deputy Chairman of the Leadership Team, AME Zone, respectively.

Paul Hardy, Aurecon CEO, said: "The formation of Aurecon is about bringing together three companies which share a common vision with the aim of both complementing and strengthening the capabilities of each organisation.

"As Aurecon, we have the opportunity to leverage our considerable expertise across a wide range of sectors and offer our clients an expanded range of technical skills and services. In addition, we are able to both provide greater opportunities for our employees, and grow the bottom line for our shareholders. Aurecon will also reduce our reliance on local business and allow for expansion into new markets within growing economies where we currently have little or no presence."

The requirements for Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa have been recognised and incorporated into the final ownership model. Aurecon will assume a status as a level 4 contributor to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa.

Approval for the formation of Aurecon has been provided and is unopposed by the South African Competition Commission.

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