A leading privately-held construction and engineering firm in Australia has almost doubled in size and pushed further into markets in North America after it closed a deal to join forces with a key Canadian provider of environmental engineering services.

In a statement last Friday, Sydney-based architecture, engineering and environmental consulting outfit GHD said it had closed a previous agreement announced in March to merge with Ontario based Conestoga‐Rovers & Associates (CRA).

The deal will see the two firms form a combined entity which will retain the GHD name, with shareholders in CRA receiving shares in GHD. The merger will create a combined entity with an 8,500 strong workforce.

While the precise ownership breakdown of the newly combined entity has not been disclosed, the Australian company – whose 5,500 strong workforce almost doubles that of CRA (3,000) – appears to be the dominant party within the merged entity, with CRA’s web site indicating that it is “a GHD company.”

GHD chief executive officer Ian Shepherd welcomed the deal, saying CRA’s market position in North America would complement GHD’s footprint across five continents.

“CRA possesses a client‐focused, high-integrity culture and an operating philosophy that proves to be highly compatible with GHD’s,” Shepard said. “CRA’s strengths in the private sector in North America are an excellent fit with our strategic plan, and GHD’s global footprint and technical skills fill much of CRA’s strategic objectives.”

“We see only positive opportunities with clients and geographic locations. GHD is thrilled to be in a position to be able to help this potential come to life.”

Meanwhile, CRA president Ed Roberts said his firm had been seeking merger opportunities which would allow the company to diversify its geographic footprint while remaining staff owned, and that the decision to combine with GHD was not a difficult one.

For GHD, the latest deal represents its third and by far its largest this year. Earlier deals saw it strengthen its position in architecture, interior design and planning as well as fire, life safety, security and technology through acquisitions of Woodhead Architects and US-based Protection Engineering Group.

The larger CRA deal will further see GHD expand its offering in terms of environmental engineering and audits and compliance as well as fields such as geotechnical, water, waste, municipal infrastructure – especially in North America.

The two companies say they will now work together on an integration plan.