Binnie & Partners was one of the grandest names in British civil engineering, designing dams and water projects around the world. It was taken over by US engineer Black & Veatch in 1995. Under new ownership, it is coming back.
RSK Group has confirmed that it is in late stages of agreeing the acquisition of Black & Veatch’s Water Europe and Water Asia businesses. These include UK-based Black & Veatch Limited, Black & Veatch Hong Kong Limited and Black & Veatch (SEA) Pte Limited in Singapore.
The deal is expected to complete in early 2021 and includes all the employees, contracts, leases and other assets of these entities.
RSK intends to operate these businesses under the revived legacy brand of Binnies.
The addition of Binnies is a big deal for RSK. It increases its annual turnover by more than 50%, from £287m to £447m. It will also increase the overall RSK headcount from 4,300 to 5,500 employees worldwide. It will expand the number of countries in which RSK is present from 27 to 31 and significantly add to RSK’s Asian footprint. Operations in Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam will be brought into the group, in addition to the Binnies’ offices throughout the UK.
Strengthening its presence in the water sector is a key strategic aim for RSK. It acquired the UK-based Water Research Centre (WRc) and its 350 employees last August and acquired Ireland-based water engineer Nicholas O’Dwyer and its 200 employees last March.
RSK chief executive officer and founder Alan Ryder said: “This acquisition marks the most significant growth in our 31-year history, positions RSK as a market leader in the water sector and provides a springboard for RSK into the East Asian markets.
“As climate change and biodiversity loss accelerate worldwide, water is becoming increasingly valuable. A key part of RSK’s climate agenda is to unleash the natural capital contained in clean water to help address and mitigate the flood risks that exist in so many parts of the world.
“The addition of Binnies to the group will greatly enhance RSK’s ability to address climate change, green growth and water and sanitation services at a global level through applied engineering excellence.”
"Binnies brings incredibly valuable specialist expertise in all areas of the water utility sector; flood and coastal defence planning and design; specialist environmental services; digital and data services; construction management and commissioning; and operations, thereby bringing a true end-to-end client service offering.
“The combination of RSK’s environmental, scientific and engineering capabilities and global presence with Binnies’ expertise in water utility, flood and coastal and environmental services will enable our group to deliver ever more sustainable water and environmental solutions.”
Scott Aitken, managing director of Binnies in Europe, said: “The environment we live in is facing considerable challenges, so our clients are seeking sustainable, resilient and affordable solutions to meet these challenges. Our water environment is a very precious resource. I am delighted with the acquisition by RSK of what will become the new Binnies business, an RSK-owned company, and how, with the combination of technical excellence, leading digital technology capability and end-to-end service offering, we will be at the forefront of assisting our clients solve these complex challenges efficiently and effectively.”
RSK’s stated goal is to employ 10,000 people and have annual turnover of £1bn by 2025.
Black & Veatch chief executive Steve Edwards said: “We have reached agreement on the transaction and expect to finalize the variety of steps necessary to complete the transaction in the coming weeks.”