Anatomy of a merger

U.S.-based company Tetra Tech is hosting partners this week from its newly merged subsidiary, U.K.-based Coffey, to share lessons learned and take stock of its expanded global market. Photo by: Nappiness

Tetra Tech’s president Jan Auman prefers the term “merger” to “acquisition.”

He has just returned to the United States after months in Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia, tracing the margins of Tetra Tech’s new markets. After acquiring Coffey International Ltd. last fall, the contracting giant picked up business in Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, East Africa and the United States, via Coffey’s U.S. subsidiary, Management Systems International.

“It was such a large and complex operation that I felt the only way to really understand it was basically to embed,” he told Devex.

The strategic significance of “welcoming Coffey to the family,” as he put it, is all about that geographic breadth, as well as the companies’ compatibility at the sector level. Tetra Tech has a long history of working with the U.S. Agency for International Development on consulting and engineering projects in areas such as water, infrastructure, governance, energy and climate and others. Like many other American organizations, however, it struggled to win contracts with other big donors, including the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and EuropeAid.

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About the author

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    Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a U.K. Correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.