Consulting Sector M&A Deals for week beginning 18th of August

businessman doing handstand on the beachMulticonsult AS (Norway) to acquire Polish business from WS Atkins plc (Poland)
Deal Size: $4.6 million Industry: Engineering consulting Date: August 2014
Design, engineering and project management consultancy WS Atkins plc said Monday that it agreed to sell its Polish business to Multiconsult AS, a Norwegian multidisciplinary consultancy and design business, for a cash consideration of 2.8 million pounds or 3.5 million euros. Prof Dr Uwe Krueger, chief executive officer of Ws Atkins plc, said: “The sale of our Polish business is a further step forward in the implementation of our strategy to optimise our portfolio of businesses, and focus our investment in markets where the Group can deliver profitable growth.” WS Atkins plc provides design, engineering, and project management consultancy services. WS Atkins plc, Polish Business provides design, engineering, and project management consultancy services. Multiconsult AS provides consulting and design services.

Energy Action Limited (Australia) acquired EnergyAdvice Pty Limited (Australia)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: Energy consulting Date: August 2014
Leading energy management company, Energy Action Limited, announced that it has acquired highly regarded energy consultancy business, EnergyAdvice Pty Limited. Established in 1997 by Mr Phil Randall, Energy Advice is a profitable, debt-free business with a core competency in energy procurement, contract management services and a speciality consultancy service. The company’s operations will complement Energy Action’s energy procurement and contract management offering and significantly strengthen EAX’s access to large energy load customers. EnergyAdvice has long term engagements with a blue-chip client list representing large commercial and industry energy consumers. These clients are highly complementary to Energy Action’s currently accessible market base. Energy Action Limited, together with its subsidiaries, provides integrated energy management services to the commercial and industrial customers in Australia.

Ameresco, Inc. (USA) acquired substantially all assets of Energyexcel LLP (UK)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: Energy consulting Date: August 2014
Ameresco, Inc., a US-based energy efficiency and renewable energy company, has acquired the energy consultancy and energy project management business of energyexcel LLP, a UK-based energy services company that provides consultancy, project management, carbon management and energy procurement services. The acquired two UK-based businesses provide complementary energy efficiency, supply management and sustainability services. The acquisition will allow Ameresco to add local presence in the UK and commercial and industrial (C&I) customer base, while expanding its capabilities and value-added services to serve local and multi-national commercial, industrial and manufacturing customer in North America and Europe. In addition, the acquisition will broaden Ameresco’s international expertise and service offerings for multi-national customer. Further, the transaction combined with the capabilities of Ameresco’s recent acquisition of Energy Services Partnership (ESP), a provider of energy management solutions, will provide the company a range of energy efficiency, renewable energy solutions and intelligent energy management services, addressing both sides of the customers’ meter, including energy supply, demand response, energy data information and analytics, and utility invoice management. Ameresco, Inc. provides energy efficiency solutions for facilities primarily in North America. Continue reading

Grow consulting sales with this pragmatic pipeline management approach

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Growing the sales pipeline and generating revenue is the number one priority for most leaders of small and medium sized consulting businesses.

However many firms fall short of their revenue targets and most experience erratic, unpredictable performance with peaks and troughs over the years. While there are of course many contributing factors to sales performance, one of the least difficult to fix is the way in which you manage your pipeline.

There are three questions we are frequently asked by our clients in order to help them put a plan in place:

1. How do we measure the pipeline and reliably forecast sales?

If you are going to drive up sales you need an effective way of measuring progress from current state and beyond. In order to do this you want to do the following:

  • Create a simple database of TRUE sales opportunities

There has to be a line drawn between a marketing lead and a real sales opportunity. Only the latter should be included in your forecast.

  • Categorise each opportunity with a success probability

Within your database, all opportunities should be categorised using four simple definitions that can be shared and understood throughout the whole organisation. These should be as follows: 0% (Prospect: a piece of work that you’re aware of); 35% (Good prospect: in discussion with client); 65% (Hot prospect: approval pending); 100% (Booked: project approved).

  • Regularly assess the overall health of the pipeline

The simplest way of doing this is to create a ‘stacked bar graph’ of the revenue per month of booked projects and discounted opportunities, for example:

Monthly Revenue

A healthy business will see a declining stream of booked revenue, but a bow-wave of discounted opportunities.  Over time you will quickly get a ‘feel’ for what looks good and what does not.

2. What stretch targets should we be setting our principals and partners?

Within a typical small or medium-sized consulting business, the stretch revenue target of a principal or senior manager could be anywhere between £1m and £3m depending on the size of support team and blended day rate for the services you offer.  In a business where:

  • A partner’s role is client (not project) management and sales conversion
  • The business turns over £5m to £10m
  • A typical ‘good sized’ project is £350k, but £1m projects are achieved
  • A strong client base exists
  • The business has a market presence and reputation in their specific field, with some sales leads coming into the company

then the target should be £2m. Adjust up or down depending on where your business sits against these factors.

In order to hit the target they will need to convert to ‘booked revenue’ £200k every month (that’s £50k a week!).  At the same time they will need to get verbal commitment for £300k every month (£75k a week), as well as adding a further £600k of good prospects to the pipeline (£150k a week).

This sounds like a difficult task, but it can be made much easier if you create discipline through a constant drumbeat of sales pipeline management activity.

3. How do we manage them towards achieving their targets?

There are three main drivers to making this happen:

  • Getting them to set sales meetings: record and measure the level of ‘front-end pro-activity’ in your selling teams in terms of meetings set and held. Measuring it will provide the necessary ‘encouragement’ needed to make it happen.
  • Keeping the pipeline moving: ensure that prospects are adequately ‘worked’.  You can only get converted orders from existing Hot and Good prospects, so it is important to also measure the value of new Good prospects added to the pipeline each month, as well as the value of projects moved into the status of ‘Hot’.
  • Setting regular sales pipeline management meetings: Holding all this data is one step forward, but to gain real benefit it needs to be monitored and managed. To do these we suggest the Managing Director or Partner runs a regular meeting with consultants holding sales responsibility to demonstrate that sales are important to the business.

All our recommendations may not be entirely new to you as we are presenting only the basic principles of sales pipeline management. That said it is surprising how many firms do not practice these important steps. This approach will not guarantee you any sales growth as this depends on a range of additional factors, however at the very least it should help to ensure that you do not lose revenue that you could be winning.

If you would like further information, we have an extended article on this topic which features more detail and examples of how to record, measure and monitor your sales pipeline.

Reasons the sale of a consulting firm can fail – Part 2

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The process of selling a consulting firm can be a fragile affair. For every M&A deal announced there are many more that fail or never get past the courtship stage for a wide variety of reasons.

We talked last week about some of the reasons deals can fall through including, taking too long to complete the deal, conflicting interests among shareholders, and sales famines while buyers are looking.

This week, we thought we would explore some more of the most common deal breakers and include tips on how to avoid them.

Don’t get cold feet

Deals can fall apart simply because owners have reservations or anxieties about selling. You don’t want to change your mind halfway through, so don’t enter the process half-cocked. Have clear objectives in mind and for each individual, pin down who wants to stay and who wants to leave and in what period of time. Do this and everything will be on the table up front and there will be much less scope for prevarication and indecision.

Don’t leave room for nasty surprises in the finances

The last thing you want during the pressure of due diligence is for the buyer to discover your ignorance or lack of understanding about the financials in your business. Or even worse, uncover something nasty that you should have spotted and dealt with in advance. This could be a simple accounting mistake, or a hidden bombshell like a fraudulent entry. If you have a finance director with an eye for detail and whom you’d trust with your life, you’re probably covered. If you’re not in this enviable position, then take measures to get your accounts professionally audited. Don’t enter the sale process until you’ve tested and retested your knowledge of all the numbers – the costs, revenues and profits – that govern your business.

Do find buyers with the right culture

Too many deals never get off the ground because of a culture mismatch between the seller and buyer. The buyer is going to walk away if they think integration will be difficult, and you’ll walk away if you’re worried about how your staff and clients will work with the new entity. Our rule ‘one buyer, no buyer’ applies here. The chances of cultural alignment are improved if you talk to a range of buyers. An M&A partner can be especially helpful here as it can undertake research and select buyers that ‘best fit’ your organisation. This is particularly important as the deal progresses through the due diligence phase when it’s likely that your team will have to meet at close quarters with the buyer’s management team to work on integration details. If your teams don’t get on the deal could be in jeopardy. By this late stage re-connecting with previous bidders is extremely difficult. It probably means starting the whole process from scratch at a later time and dealing with de-motivated shareholders that are rueing missed opportunities!

Do walk in the buyer’s shoes

When all the pleasantries are over, it always comes down to price. We’ve never met a seller who didn’t think their consulting firm was worth more to them than it was to the buyer. If you’re going to drag the buyer over the bridge between their price and yours, you need to be able to justify it and not come across as greedy. The best way to do this is to have a sound understanding of deal values in the current consulting M&A market, and know the synergy value of your firm to the specific buyer; something for which they will be willing to pay a premium. In short, it’s all about knowing the market, salesmanship, and seeking out a range of buyers with synergy who want to compete to buy your firm.

Finally, to conclude:

Don’t let bad luck strike

It’s difficult to mitigate bad luck. With all the best planning in the world, something unforeseen and unimaginable inside or outside your firm could happen. The best you can do is to plan for the unexpected just like you would with any other event in your organisation. If there is, however, one thing that’s more likely to thwart your progress to sale, it is your client market collapsing during the deal process. Diversity in your clients and markets is the ideal way to be safe from external issues. Back to our very first point, the longer the deal takes the more likely you expose yourself to bad luck, so aim to complete a deal as fast as possible.

You can of course make your luck by taking note of all our deal breakers to manage the risk…. then, it’s just a case of keeping your fingers crossed!

We have started a discussion in our LinkedIn Group on this topic. We would welcome your views and we will answer any questions you may have.

Consulting Sector M&A Deals for week beginning 11th August

businessman doing handstand on the beachRPS Group plc (UK) acquired CgMs Ltd. (UK)
Deal Size: $21.8 million Industry: Management consulting / Strategy Date: August 2014
RPS announces the acquisition of CgMs Holdings Limited and its subsidiary company CgMs Limited (together “CgMs”), a UK based consultancy providing planning and development services primarily to the residential, retail and commercial property development industries, for a maximum consideration of £13.0 million. Founded in 1997, CgMs has offices in London, Cheltenham, Newark, Manchester and Edinburgh. The companies, which employ 112 permanent staff, work primarily on projects associated with achieving planning consents for the UK property industry. They provide strategic and detailed urban planning advice, as well as advising on historic buildings and heritage assets. The RPS Board sees excellent opportunities in these markets as the planning and development sector emerges from the recession. lan Hearne, Chief Executive of RPS, commented: “CgMs has an excellent reputation and track record. Its skills will complement the services RPS currently provides to the property development sector. Following a period of integration we anticipate CgMs will make a significant contribution to our BNE: Europe business in 2015 and beyond.” RPS Group PLC provides advice for the exploration and production of oil and gas and other natural resources; and development and management of the built and natural environment. CgMs Holdings Limited, through its subsidiary CgMs Limited, provides consulting, planning, and development services to the residential, retail, and commercial property development industries.

TeleTech Holdings Inc. (USA) signed an agreement to acquire RogenSi Worldwide Pty Ltd. (Australia)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: HR Consulting Date: August 2014
TeleTech Holdings, Inc., a leading global provider of analytics-driven, technology-enabled customer engagement solutions, announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all operating assets of rogenSi Worldwide PTY, a global leadership and sales execution consulting firm headquartered in Australia, with operations in Asia-Pacific, Europe andNorth America. Under the terms of the agreement, rogenSi will become part of TeleTech’s Customer Strategy Services (CSS) segment. This transaction, which is scheduled to close in August 2014, is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings. “We are pleased to welcome the talented global consulting team from rogenSi to TeleTech,” commented Brian Shepherd, executive vice president, customer Strategy and Customer Technology Services. “With this acquisition we significantly enhance our global presence, client breadth, and ability to positively impact the successful execution of customer engagement strategies. By combining rogenSi’s leadership development and sales effectiveness methodologies with TeleTech’s customer experience strategy, learning innovation, multi-channel operations, and technology consulting, we are uniquely positioned to deliver greater client value on a global basis. With rogenSi, we positively impact the critical change management process necessary to go from strategy to outcome across leaders, managers, sales and contact center associates.” TeleTech Holdings, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides customer engagement management solutions in the United States and internationally. RogenSi Worldwide Pty Ltd. provides training and professional development services for leaders, managers, and business professionals.

Winxnet, Inc (USA) acquired KDSA Consulting, LLC (USA)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: IT Consulting Date: August 2014
Winxnet announced that its acquisition of KDSA Consulting LLC will allow the company to increase business throughout New England with the addition of 40 sales, service and consulting professionals, as well as new information technology services. John LoConte and Dawn Mortimer, who co-founded KDSA Consulting in 2004, will join Winxnet’s leadership team. LoConte, who has worked in the IT industry for nearly 30 years, previously served as the director of IT services for the Boston Technology Group of RSM McGladrey. Mortimer is a Microsoft-certified Dynamics SL consultant and has more than 25 years of experience in providing technology and business solutions. “Our core values of integrity, honesty and respect in dealing with clients and co-workers directly align with Winxnet’s way of doing business,” LoConte said in a prepared statement. “The integration of the two cultures will strengthen Winxnet’s ability to offer the best complete business technology solutions to organisations in need of IT support and guidance. We are thrilled to be joining the Winxnet team. It is exciting to be a part of a growing company with a strong reputation for service.” Winxnet, Inc. provides information technology (IT) outsourcing and consulting services. KDSA Consulting provides comprehensive business process reviews, accounting software solutions, enterprise network infrastructure assessments, custom programming, training, disaster recovery planning and ongoing end user support.

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Reasons the sale of a consulting firm can fail – Part 1

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The decision to sell your consultancy is one of the biggest that you’re likely to make in your life and it is a decision fraught with complexities. The reality is you don’t know what you don’t know and that’s what we are aiming to address with Equity Edge, our recently launched resource and information hub for consulting firm owners.

The process of selling a consulting firm can be a fragile affair. All the initial goodwill and grace between you and the buyer can quickly turn into negotiating stand-offs and eleventh hour fall-outs. Months of meetings, due diligence, planning and drafting sessions can quickly evaporate due to nasty surprises, unclear expectations or just plain bad luck. Having the right people involved in the process can make a big difference.

For every M&A deal announced there are many more that fail or never get past the courtship stage for a wide variety of reasons. Based on our experience over the last few years of watching buyers and sellers walk away from the table, or seeing sellers reluctantly settle for tougher terms than they deserve, we thought we would explore some of the most common deal breakers and include tips on how to avoid them.

Don’t take too long to complete the deal

The risk of the deal failing over time follows the Pareto Principle; there’s a 20% risk of failure at the thin end of the time curve and 80% at the thick end. The longer time goes on, the more opportunity there is for something nasty to be found by the buyer and a greater chance of you falling out of favour with lady luck. Consultants are meant to be good at project management – so put it to use. Before you take your firm to market, make sure you have all the bases covered in the sale preparation and get the right resources ring-fenced so that all eyes are on the important balls.

Don’t enter the process with conflicting interests among the shareholders

If you have a complex share ownership structure you don’t want things getting messy when the buyer comes to the table. While you as the main shareholder may be highly motivated to sell, or settle for a certain deal structure, perhaps a junior director who hasn’t yet earned all his/her shares will have a very different view. If this comes out when the buyer interviews key staff, things will get complicated and it will be difficult to strike a deal. The only way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to resolve these issues with each and every shareholder in the process leading up to the decision to enter the market.

Don’t miss your financial forecast during due diligence

Missing your financial forecast during the sale process is very bad news. The buyer will worry about your financial management and may want to dig deeper into the cause, which in turn may uncover additional issues as they drill down into your financials. There are some things out of your control, but it’s within your power to make sure that you have a robust financial management and forecasting process and to choose the time to take your firm to market when you’re confident in the stability of your numbers.

Don’t suffer sales famine while buyers are looking

This is crucial because the profit multiple the buyer is prepared to offer is significantly dependant on their confidence that your profits will continue into the future. Clearly, if your pipeline reduces unexpectedly during the sale process then a fuse is going to trip in the buyer’s mind. It is likely it will trigger a deeper examination of your sales and marketing process and a possible reduction in their bid. Depending on your sales cycle, you need to put a concerted effort into sales and marketing in advance to make sure that the engine is tuned and everything stays on track during the sale process and beyond. Getting this right will also reduce the risk of missing future financial forecasts in earn-out circumstances or when your deal structure relies on future targets being met.

Don’t risk important people defections part way through

Losing a senior or key member of your staff during the process will do two things for the buyer; they will question the quality of your HR management and want to re-assess the value of their prospective acquisition. This issue is linked to conflicting stakeholder interests above but mostly it comes back to the measures you’ve taken to lock-in key staff well in advance of sale. If you’ve introduced motivational reward and recognition programmes along with an equity share ownership scheme, then you’ve probably done the best you can to reduce this risk. Don’t forget that 70% of something is worth more to you than 100% of nothing!

We will continue to examine the reasons a sale can fail in next week’s blog but in the meantime if this has raised any questions for you, we have started a discussion in our LinkedIn Group on this topic and would welcome your views.

Consulting Sector M&A Deals for week beginning 4th August

businessman doing handstand on the beachKPMG LLP (USA) acquired Workday Consulting Practice from AXIA Consulting, LLC (USA)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: IT consulting Date: August 2014
The acquisition strengthens KPMG’s capabilities around alliance partner, Workday, a provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human capital management. Adding AXIA’s Workday team to KPMG’s delivery capabilities further elevates the firm’s position as a leader in global business transformation enabled by Workday. Stephen Lis, KPMG’s U.S. leader for Management Consulting, commented on the acquisition, stating, “We are very pleased to welcome AXIA’s Workday consulting team members to the KPMG family. Their team has quickly become a ‘go-to’ partner for payroll, data conversion and integrations with Workday services, and we are looking forward to leveraging their expertise as we continue to bolster our strong position in the important Finance and HR Transformation market.” Stephen Chase, KPMG’s service line leader for Technology, added, “Adding the deep and focused IT experience of these professionals to our Enterprise Solutions practice significantly advances our ability to address clients’ technology enablement and enterprise transformation needs. In turn, AXIA’s Workday professionals now have access to the extended capabilities that KPMG provides to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Enterprise Resource Planning marketplace.” Chase concluded, “We are happy to have them on board as we work with clients to successfully plan for, select, design, integrate, and implement SaaS-based solutions.” AXIA Consulting, LLC., a consulting company, provides technology and business consulting services to local middle-market and Fortune 500 companies, as well as government agencies. KPMG LLP provides assurance, tax, and financial advisory services.

Clif Bodiford CPAs (USA) merges practice into Scott and Company CPAs (USA)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: Management consulting / Strategy Date: August 2014
Columbia-based Clifton Bodiford CPA’s has merged its practice into Scott and Company LLC, and will operate under the Scott and Company brand, effective immediately. Former Founder and Bodiford CPA firm principal Clif Bodiford and Dave Bodiford both join Scott and Company under the terms of the deal. Both companies provide audit and assurance, tax and a range of consulting services to clients across the Southeast and internationally. “We have known and respected the Scott and Company leadership team for years, and we knew that our client service commitment, professionalism and cultures of the two firms were highly compatible,” said Clif Bodiford in announcing the merger. “Combined, we look forward to providing additional resources and capabilities to our clients while continuing to deliver exceptional accounting, tax and assurance services. We are excited about the depth and talents that the combined Scott and Company firm can offer.

CBRE Group, Inc. (USA) acquired CBRE | Louisville (USA)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: Management consulting / Strategy Date: August 2014
CBRE Group, Inc. announced that it has acquired CBRE | Louisville, a commercial real estate services firm that has served as CBRE’s affiliate in metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky and southern Indiana since 1996. CBRE | Louisville is one of the Louisville region’s leading providers of leasing, investment sales, property management and consulting services. The firm, led by Managing Director David Hardy and his partners, Kevin Grove and Robert Schwartz, has a staff of 34 and manages more than 10 million square feet in the region. Louisville is a growing business center in the Midwest, with a diversified economy that includes several Fortune 500 and many middle-market companies. Employment in the manufacturing and logistics sectors has been a strong growth driver in the region, along with the health care sector and the medical science industry, which has contributed significant advancements in both heart and hand surgery. Downtown Louisville continues to experience a strong growth period with numerous multi-million dollar construction and renovation projects under way. CBRE Group, Inc. operates as a commercial real estate services and investment company worldwide. Continue reading

Consulting Sector M&A Deals for week beginning 28th July

businessman doing handstand on the beachDistributed Information Technologies, Inc. (USA) signed a definitive agreement to acquire Clango Group, Inc. (USA)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: IT consulting Date: July 2014

Distributed Information Technologies, Inc. (DIT), a leading provider of IT consulting services and software solutions, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Clango Group, Inc. The acquisition enhances DIT’s commitment to information security by expanding the company’s capabilities into the areas of identity and access management (IAM) advisory services, access governance, and risk management. “Information security is not only front-page news; it’s a top area of concern of many of the nation’s leading CEOs,” said Duane Graham, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, DIT. “IAM as a discipline ensures that only authorized personnel have access to an organisation’s sensitive data. As workforces continue to become globally dispersed and data privacy legislation aggressively evolves, it will be critical for organisations to have effective IAM programs in place to adaptively protect information within an ever-changing threat landscape. Additionally, the proliferation of federal and international data privacy legislation has created an environment that relies heavily on an effective IAM program. Clango Group delivers cutting-edge IAM strategy expertise and market research capabilities that are highly complementary to DIT’s existing application security services portfolio.” Based in Minneapolis, MN, Clango Group provides advisory services focused on the thoughtful evolution of identity management, IT access governance, and trust brokerage services. Kamille White, President and Founder of Clango Group, Inc., said of her company’s acquisition by DIT, “I am excited about the opportunities this partnership provides in expanding our delivery of comprehensive IAM Advisory Services nationwide. The need for effective IAM strategy is significant, and we can help our client partners every step of the way. The combined capabilities of these organisations will provide a powerful suite of security solutions to a broad set of clients.”

AECOM Technology Corporation (USA) acquired Hunt Construction Group, Inc. (USA)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: Engineering consulting Date: July 2014

AECOM, the world’s #1-ranked engineering design firm, announced that it has acquired Hunt Construction Group, significantly adding to AECOM’s construction services business. “The addition of Hunt’s people and resources immediately makes AECOM one of the largest U.S. builders,” said Michael S. Burke, AECOM president and chief executive officer. “This important expansion of our build expertise reflects the continued advancement of our strategy to create an integrated delivery platform with superior capabilities to design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets globally.” “Becoming part of AECOM provides expanded growth opportunities for our business and our people, as we are now better positioned to continue working on the largest and most challenging projects,” said Hunt Construction Group Chief Executive Mike Fratianni, who will retain his position with the operation, as will current Chairman Emeritus Robert Hunt. Hunt Construction Group, Inc. provides construction management, general contracting, design-build, preconstruction consulting, program management, and consulting services in the United States. AECOM Technology Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, provides professional technical and management support services for public and private clients in worldwide.

ARCADIS NV (Netherlands) made an offer to acquire Hyder Consulting PLC (UK)
Deal Size: Unspecified Industry: Engineering consulting Date: July 2014

Hyder Consulting PLC saw its shares surge Thursday after it reached an agreement to be acquired by Arcadis UK Investments BV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arcadis NV, at a 39% premium. AUK Investments will fund the deal via a new acquisition financing facility provided by HSBC, ING Bank NV and BNP Paribas Fortis SA/NV. News of the acquisition came as Hyder, a design and engineering consultancy, said trading in the first quarter was in line with expectations. The firm said it had increased its order book in Australia and said its order book remains strong in the Middle East. In the UK, the firm said results were ahead of the year before and expectations, with a particularly strong performance for its rail unit. It added its performance in Germany was improving and it was reducing losses from the business. Hyder Consulting PLC, a design and engineering consultancy company, provides infrastructure, property, and environmental solutions. Arcadis N.V. provides consultancy, design, engineering, and management services for infrastructure, water, environment, and buildings worldwide. Continue reading