UK consultant W S Atkins is acquiring 100% of the shares of the Benham Companies Inc for a total price of $52.3m. The amount will be settled at closing by a payment of cash plus an assumption of debt.

Benham , a privately owned architectural and engineering business headquartered in Oklahoma City, had a reported turnover in 1998 of $113.3m.

The acquisition represents Atkins‘ expansion in the US and strengthens the company’s capability in the industrial sector, as well as providing expertise in transport and property. The acquired company increases Atkins’ capability in Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) contracts, which are an expanding component of its business.

Benham gives Atkins access to its private and public sector customer base in the US, providing good prospects for growth, which fit well with Atkins’ existing skills. At time of going to press, the acquisition depends on the approval of Benham’s shareholders and US regulatory approvals.

Atkins’ chief executive, Mike Jeffries, comments: "It provides us with an established base from which to implement our strategy to become the world’s first choice supplier of technical services and integrated solutions for the built environment."