Bid in for top consultancy buyout

A leading environmental consultancy looks set to change hands after receiving an offer from a private equity firm to buy the business.

Multinational consultancy Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which has offices in 39 countries, has received a formal offer from Bridgepoint, a private equity firm that provides capital to management teams looking to buyout their companies.

The Bridgepoint bid has been made for a 52% stake of ERM currently held by backer 3i Group as well as the remaining 48% holding held by employees of the consultancy.

The offer values the business at US$535 million and if the transaction goes through it will become the largest ever leveraged buyout (LBO) in the UK's professional services sector.

A significant number of the employee shareholders are expected to re-invest a substantial portion of the cash raised from the sale of their shares in the new-look company.

Commenting on the transaction, Dr Robin Bidwell, chairman of ERM, said:

"ERM's success to date has been built on a foundation of providing the
highest quality environmental consultancy to all clients, wherever their
operations may be.

"Environmental and social liabilities are receiving increased attention from all major Corporates.

"More stringent regulations, the focus on sustainable development and risk management all underpin our continuing growth.

"Our advice is now sought on projects large and small, be they local construction projects in Indonesia, substantial oil & gas exploration licence applications in Russia, major M&A transactions in Europe or successful Olympic bids.

"The environment is no longer an after-thought to a bigger process - it is
at the heart of key strategic business decisions and investments being made by the world's largest companies.

"That is why we are so excited about ERM's next phase of development backed by both the partners of the business and our new private equity investor, Bridgepoint."

By Sam Bond



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