Ramboll acquires OBG to chart expansion in America

Combined entity to contend with 'challenges caused by global megatrends', OBG boss says

Ramboll, which has clients such as Imkan and Dewa in the UAE, has acquired OBG to expand its operations in the Americas [representational image].
Ramboll, which has clients such as Imkan and Dewa in the UAE, has acquired OBG to expand its operations in the Americas [representational image].

Danish construction consultancy Ramboll has acquired American firm OBG to expand its water, energy, and environmental services portfolio in America. The combined revenue of both firms amounts to $2bn.

Construction Week is awaiting comment from Ramboll about whether and how the acquisition will impact the company’s operation in the Middle East. However, group chief executive officer, Jens-Peter Saul, said OBG’s 900 professionals are now part of the Denmark-headquartered company, which in the UAE features clients such as Imkan and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).

READ: Middle East wins buoy Ramboll's $862m H1 2017 revenues

“Growing in North America has been a strategic priority for us since we established our US presence in 2014 with the successful acquisition of Environ,” he continued.

In a statement, Ramboll said OBG is “culturally a perfect match” for the firm, with 91% of OBG’s shares cast in favour of the acquisition. OBG chief executive officer, Jim Fox, said joining Ramboll offered “a tremendous opportunity to widen our client base in the US, as well as extend our client relationships globally”.

He added: “Additionally, this brings together world-class thought leadership and the capacity to solve the challenges caused by global megatrends such as urbanisation, climate change, and resource scarcity.”

Ramboll acquired Environ at the end of 2014 in a transaction that added 1,500 environmental and health science specialists to its global operation. The latest takeover of OBG doubles Ramboll’s size in the US, leading the firm to establish a principal business unit for the Americas, which will cover the US, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.

Starting 1 January, 2019, Fox will lead the US division as managing director, with the unit targeted to double its current headcount of 2,000 over the next five years.

With Imkan, Ramboll is providing leading consultancy and design; supervision; and management services under a three-year contract for Phase 1 of Makers District. Ramboll is working on the 18ha mixed-use development in Abu Dhabi alongside architects Big and MVRDV.

Meanwhile, with Dewa, Ramboll’s work includes the completion of a feasibility study for Liwa Oasis, which entailed a groundwater survey using non-intrusive methods to “assess the potentiality of Dubai aquifiers to store and naturally desalinate” seawater.

This June, Richard Beard, managing director for the Middle East and Asia offices of Ramboll, was named as one of the key leaders in the 2018 Construction Week Power 100 list, the definitive ranking of the Middle East’s most influential leaders from the development, contracting, and consulting business communities in the region.

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