Private equity firm WestBridge has completed a secondary buyout of engineering services firm Land Survey Solutions. The deal was supported by advisors from professional services firms including BDO, CIL and Clearwater International.
Land Survey Solutions, which trades as Survey Solutions, is a provider of engineering surveying and monitoring services to a range of sectors across the UK. First formed in 1997, it has since grown to become a national operator, with 14 regional offices and 160 full time employees – most of whom are specialist surveyors – across the UK.
As private equity player WestBridge looks to build its portfolio in the sector, it has invested £14.2 million to take a majority stake in the business. The transaction provides an exit for RJD Partners and the founder James Cooper. The move also marks the second platform investment from the firm’s private fund limited partnership, WestBridge III. In mid-2023, the group also purchased digital commerce agency Tryzens.
Rebecca Sinclair, investment manager at WestBridge, said, “Survey Solutions epitomises the type of business we are keen to back. It operates in a highly fragmented niche sector, where there is significant potential for further growth, not least through the adoption of technology and via strategic M&A opportunities. WestBridge has a strong track record of backing niche service providers operating in adjacent markets to Survey Solutions. We were particularly pleased to be introduced to David and recommended as the right partner to support his growth ambitions by the CEO of one of our current investments.”
Survey Solutions has a broad range of clients including Thames Water, Transport for London, Aecom, Jacobs, Balfour Beatty and Kier. It provides land, building, underground and site surveys, along with a range of support services covering the lifecycle of a development, but in recent years, has also expanded its service offering to clients, adding capabilities such as drone surveying and hydrographics.
The deal sees Survey Solutions’ management team take control of the company, via a buyout led by David Lowe, along with his senior management team. He has helmed the company as CEO since 2022, and believes that the deal puts Survey Solutions in a strong position to grow, with its new private equity backing.
Lowe commented, “Survey Solutions holds a strong position in a niche and extremely fragmented market, with high barriers to scale. There is significant opportunity for growth, both organically and through consolidation. My colleagues and I have been immensely impressed with the team from WestBridge, who share our belief in the huge potential for growth that lies ahead. We are particularly enthused by the WestBridge Value Creation Model, which provides a blueprint for rigorously identifying revenue accelerating improvements and growth opportunities within the business.”
Debt funding for the buyout was provided by alternative finance provider, Thin Cats. Meanwhile, a number of professional services firms provided advice on both sides of the deal.
WestBridge received buyside advice from Clearwater International, legal advice from Pinsent Masons, financial and tax from BDO, commercial from CIL, technology from Equator, sales from Sales Blueprint, insurance from Marsh, and organisational strategy from Catalysis. At the same time, Survey Solutions’ management team received advice from Cooper Parry and legal advice from Squires, while its exiting owners took sellside advice fromLava, legal advice from Mishcon de Reya, and commercial support from PMSI.
UK engineering consulting market
UK infrastructure project leaders have endured one of the toughest periods in their modern history. While they showed surprising flexibility during the lockdown phase of a global pandemic, almost four years on, they face complex issues on all fronts. The war in Ukraine continues to disrupt supply chains and send energy costs soaring, and at home a period of heightened political instability has left developers guessing about the kind of regulatory changes they will be facing. This has also had a noted knock-on impact on the engineering consulting market in the UK, which has declined an average of 0.9% over each of the last five years – including shrinkage of -1% in 2023.
Looking ahead for the following 12 months, however, recent research from Deloitte suggests there could be a boost to construction associated with manufacturing, transportation infrastructure, and clean energy infrastructure. These relate to funds from three key pieces of legislation passed in 2021 and 2022 – the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act. As these flow into the industry, engineering consulting services providers may still see an up-tick in activity.