June 24, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Three purchases in three months | WSP in accelerated mode

Hausse des taux d'intérêt |  Pas de panique

Alexandre L’Heureux candidly admits that the past six months have been particularly busy, but since June WSP’s CEO has led negotiations that have made it possible to carry out three major acquisitions and move his workforce from 57,000 to 70,000 professionals worldwide. While expanding its expertise in the field of earth and environmental sciences.

Posted at 6:30 am

In the 2022-2024 strategic plan unveiled last March, the company said it aims to reach the 10 billion mark in net revenues by 2024. Once the transactions are completed, this target could be reached as early as this year, it said. Pro forma results of an engineering firm.

In early June, WSP announced the completion of Scottish company John Wood’s E&I (environment and infrastructure) division at a cost of 2.3 billion, suddenly adding 6,000 professionals to its global workforce. $1 billion in revenue.

Last week WSP confirmed it had reached an agreement with British firm Capita to buy its Capita REI and GLH divisions, which specialize in engineering and management consultancy services, in a slightly smaller 160 million transaction. Environmental Support Project. Both divisions employ around 1,000 professionals in the UK.

Finally on Monday evening, WSP announced that it has entered into an agreement with RPS Group to acquire all the shares of the British company, which has a workforce of 5,000 professionals worldwide, and is mainly active in the consulting services sector. 975 million transaction.

The RPS Group is particularly active in the environmental sector and has extensive expertise in marine sciences, particularly in offshore wind farms and wastewater treatment, whether industrial or municipal.

“These transactions will contribute to the transformation of WSP. We announced in 2018 that we want to become a world leader in energy transition, doubling our expertise in this field in five years. »

“Earth sciences and the environment account for more than 30% of our revenue, while transport and construction represent 40 and 30%, compared to 80% in the past,” notes Alexandre L’Heureux.

Financial comfort

The financial flexibility available to WSP made this cascade of purchases possible over a period of three months. Once again, the Montreal company was able to count on its longtime shareholders to support its international expansion.

Caisse depot et placement du Québec, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board — Investments RPC — and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC PTE injected $400 million through a private placement, while WSP secured $400 million in public financing.

As with the transaction with John Wood, we paid cash and therefore did not increase our balance sheet, which ultimately gives us all the financial latitude to make other acquisitions. We have an opportunistic capital structure.

Alexandre L’Heureux, CEO of WSP

However, the CEO admits that the company now intends to focus its energies on integrating the newly acquired companies.

“I have been in discussions with RPS for four years, but it was not the right time. There, the stars aligned and we were able to complete a transaction that satisfied everyone.

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“For five years, we’ve transformed, we’ve gone somewhere else. Today, our activities are very well balanced. We earn 50% of our revenue in engineering-design and the remaining 50% in consulting services. We have built resilience,” said the CEO of WSP.

Photo by Francois Roy, La Presse Archives

With these recent transactions, WSP has further increased its footprint in the UK, where it has become a leading engineering firm, as well as in Australia and Canada.

Further expansion may take place in the United States, where the Montreal group has about 16,000 professionals compared to 12,000 in Canada.

“The United States is 10 times bigger than Canada, so it’s normal for us to grow our presence compared to what we have here,” the CEO predicted.

“In 2011, when I was CFO of WSP and we were doing our first private financing, I told financial analysts that one day the engineering company could have 100,000 professionals worldwide. I think it will happen and it could be WSP,” predicts Alexandre L’Heureux today.

A record order book

WSP reported its second quarter results on Tuesday, including a record order book. It stood at 11.4 billion on July 2, corresponding to 12.5 months of revenue. Excluding acquisitions, backlog showed organic growth of 19.1%. Net income fell to 89.3 million from 120.0 million in the quarter ended July 2. The company attributed the decline to impairments related to deferred compensation plans for US employees and lower charges for leased assets. Revenue rose 5% to 2.8 billion. Adjusted diluted earnings per share were $1.30. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.30 per share and revenue of $2.1 billion, according to data firm Refinitiv.

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