Danish firm builds bridges with acquisition of UK engineers

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Consulting and structural engineers Flint & Neill – the company which designed and supervised the strengthening of the Severn Bridge and is currently part of the new Forth Bridge design team – has been acquired by the leading Danish consulting group COWI.

Clearwater Corporate Finance advised Flint & Neill on the deal, which will open up opportunities for it to participate in projects on an even larger scale.

Founded in 1958 by Dr A.R. Flint and Mr. J.A. Neill, Flint & Neill has established itself among the world’s leading engineering consultancies with a portfolio including the Bridge of Aspiration in London’s Covent Garden, as well as the exotic concrete shells of the Baha’i in New Delhi and the National Theatre building on London’s South Bank, both award-winning structures.

The practice also engineers masts and towers for broadcast and telecommunication clients. Flint & Neill is based in London with offices in Stone in Gloucestershire, Erskine in Scotland and Dublin.

COWI is well known worldwide for its work on long-span bridges, having designed the Great Belt East Bridge in Denmark, the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden and the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway. Flint & Neill brings further expertise and experience to the group, following COWI’s acquisition of the Vancouver-based consultants Buckland and Taylor ten years ago.

Flint & Neill will retain its name and continue to provide the same specialist engineering services to clients but with access to a broader skills resource. Partners Ian Firth and David MacKenzie will continue to lead the firm, with MacKenzie taking on the role of chief executive officer and Firth continuing as chief operating officer. Flint & Neill has also appointed long-standing staff members Jerry Cutter, John Rees and Paul Sanders to the board of directors.

“The firm has flourished over the last 50 years, establishing itself as one of the world’s leading engineering consultancies” says MacKenzie. “This new relationship with COWI enables us to continue what we already do but with additional capacity, and presents opportunities for growth and diversification.”

“We have always respected the work of COWI, recognising them as one of the world’s great multi-disciplinary engineering consultancies, and have worked with them before to provide independent consultancy services and advice. We are now very excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead as part of this excellent group.”

Ian Firth adds: “This provides a secure platform on which we can continue to provide the expert and specialist services for which we are already well known, and opens up opportunities for participation in major projects which we could not previously handle alone.”

The London office of Clearwater provided corporate finance advice to Flint & Neill. Marc Gillespie, partner with Clearwater said: “The deal provides a sound platform from which Flint & Neill can continue its growth and opens up opportunities for it to become involved in even larger projects. As COWI operates in a wide variety of other fields, including marine and offshore structures and environmental consultancy, Flint & Neill can also offer a wider range of resources and capabilities to its clients.

“The deal also demonstrates that international buyers are still active given the current economic climate. Clearwater’s international network has once again assisted in bringing together a strategic M&A transaction.”