Engineering an international merger

As an international business scholar, it is always intriguing to see public discussion by a CEO of the framing, sorting and analysis process with respect to international expansion.

blueprintAustralian engineering firm Connell Wagner has announced a merger with two South African firms which create a large, highly internationalised entity. Connell Wagner was already operating in eight countries in Asia and the Middle East. Africon operated in 10 African nations plus two in the Middle East. Ninham Shand has run projects across Africa and Asia also. The resultant firm will have offices in 28 countries.

What is refreshing is the very open discussion of the search and screening considerations of Connell Wagner:

“The aim was to find companies in an economy with a gross domestic product greater than $200 billion; a developing country, not a mature one; English as a second language; and access to technical skills and good clients. Connell Wagner eventually narrowed down the list to South Africa, India, Brazil and Eastern Europe.”

The CEO goes on to discuss the firm desire to leverage Portugese language capabilities from the new firm’s Angolan and Mozambican offices into markets such as Brazil. This shows a strong internationalist bent on the firm’s part as they chase opportunities across developing markets (so crucial for infrastructure engineers).

Of note also is the likelihood that the new firm will eventually be headquartered out of Singapore. Yet more evidence that central timezones and geographic positions do matter when trying to coordinate dispersed activities.


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