PBSJ bought by British Atkins for $280m (TAKEOVER)
By Peter Samuel
PBSJ one of the largest engineering firms working for US tollers is being acquired by London-based Atkins for $280m. Employee-owned PBSJ has been seeking a takeover for some months. Four top executives including CEO Robert Paulsen reached severance agreements with the PBSJ board June 2 in anticipation of a takeover. The firm has been wracked by an embezzlement scandal and criminal investigations of its international subsidiary, as well as the fragile US economy.
The company billed nearly $800m in revenue last year and has about 3500 employees in some 80 offices. It acts as general engineering consultant for quite a number of US toll agencies. Only HNTB rivals PBSJ in general engineering consultant work to toll agencies.
In a statement CEO Paulsen says the company "maintained a solid (financial) performance" but its potential for growth is limited while employee-owned.
Atkins' CEO Keith Clarke is quoted in a statement: "This is an important acquisition for Atkins and forms part of our plan to grow our business through a multi-skill, multi-local strategy. PBSJ operates a business model we understand and complements our business superbly, enhancing our skills in environmental, transportation, building design and programme (NOTE: Brit spelling) management disciplines.
"PBSJ has an experienced management team and a strong, long-standing reputation for technical excellence and quality, which underpins its deep client relationships. These are all important criteria for a successful acquisition, which will provide us with a strong platform for growth and enable us to drive significant value for our shareholders."
Paulsen will be leader of the US unit of Atkins that will be formed out of PBSJ.
Atkins is the world's 11th largest engineering firm worldwide, it says.
Its logo with the barless 'A' has a kind of Greek look, but it is based in Britain and its shares are traded on the London stock exchange. It is ranked as the largest British engineering consultancy.
Atkins revenue last year was $2400m and it employed 18,000 people.
Head office likely to move to major city from west FL
PBSJ has its head office in charming but remote Tampa Florida, but as part of an international engineering company it is likely to go to a metro area with a major international airport and a more central location - such as Dallas TX, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Chicago or Washington DC.
Atkins is head officed in Epsom, a southwest suburb of London not far from the M25 belt motorway and a short run to Heathrow airport.
NOTE: PBSJ could never decide if it wanted an ampersand '&' - sometimes being PBS&J, more often recently just PBSJ. The letters come from Post, Buckley, Schuh, Jernigan, last names of the four founding partners of the company in Florida in the early 1960s. The planned new town of Miami Lakes was their first project.