GVA announces takeover by Canadian real estate practice

Planning and regeneration will still be a 'key part' of the UK skills set offered by multi-disciplinary consultancy GVA following its takeover by a Canadian firm, a senior figure at the acquiring company has promised.

(L-R) Jason Sibthorpe, Principal and U.K. Managing Director, Avison Young; Gerry Hughes, CEO, GVA; Andreas Aschenbrenner, Partner at EQT Partners; Mark Rose, Chair and CEO, Avison Young
(L-R) Jason Sibthorpe, Principal and U.K. Managing Director, Avison Young; Gerry Hughes, CEO, GVA; Andreas Aschenbrenner, Partner at EQT Partners; Mark Rose, Chair and CEO, Avison Young

Toronto-based real estate services firm Avison Young announced last week that it has entered into a "definitive agreement" to acquire GVA and aims to finalise the deal in the first quarter of 2019.

GVA, one of the biggest planning consultancies in the UK, is currently owned by Apleona, part of global private equity firm EQT.

According to results supplied for the annual Planning Consultancy Survey, to be published next week, on 1 September this year GVA had 91 chartered town planners and 113 planning fee-earners among around 1,500 employees based at its UK offices.

Clients include UK public institutions, multinational corporations, major space users, developers, property owners, lenders and investors.

Avison Young has 2,700 real estate professionals in 85 offices in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Germany, Romania and Korea.

It has operated in the UK real estate sector since 2014 and now has offices in London, Manchester, Coventry and the Thames Valley. The firm said it currently employs no professional planners in the UK.

The merged practice would have 19 offices and 1,600 employees in the UK, working with clients on the transaction and consultancy sides of the business.

Jason Sibthorpe, a joint managing director in Avison Young’s UK team, said planning and regeneration will be a "key part" of the combined team’s offer.

"Our intention is to build in all our property sectors, including planning. Without the GVA opportunity, we would probably have grown our UK business in a more piecemeal manner."

GVA chief executive Gerry Hughes said: "We could not have asked for a better outcome for the GVA business, our clients and our staff. We now enter a new era as a key component of a global real estate advisory platform, which will allow us to further flourish and better serve global clients."

Avison Young chair and chief executive officer Mark E Rose said the deal marks a "transformational event that underpins our ambition and intent to significantly expand our footprint in Europe and beyond".

He added: "Avison Young and GVA have complementary businesses in the UK, and this combination of expertise and talent will better equip us to serve global clients."

In May, GVA acquired Manchester-based HOW Planning. According to last year’s Planning Consultancy Survey, HOW had 16 chartered town planners in September 2017 and 23 planning fee-earners.

The GVA deal is the second to be struck between a UK-based planning consultancy and a Canadian firm. In August, Peter Brett Associates signed a 'letter of intent' to join forces with Canadian-based consultancy Stantec. The transaction was finalised in September.


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