Louis Berger, the global professional services corporation that lists the Doha Metro (pictured right) , High-Speed rail in Spain, the Mumbai Metro Line 1 and the TGV extension in France, among its many transport projects has reinforced its three-year business strategy aimed at further expanding its global operations by opening a new international headquarters in Richmond, London. The move from Paris, aims to expand its foothold in the UK and in Europe and aligns with the company’s reorganization and modernization effort that has unfolded over the past five years. SmartRail World Editor, Luke Upton, got an exclusive invite to attend the opening and met with some of the senior management team, including their International President, to learn more about the new office, future plans, areas of growth and what they think Brexit and President-Elect Trump could mean for infrastructure investment.
Louis Berger ( @ ) operates in more than 50 nations, on every habitable continent, with its multidisciplinary expertise of 6,000 engineers, economists, scientists, managers and planners helping infrastructure and development clients solve complex and varied challenges.
“London is an international centre for engineering and business. Relocating Louis Berger’s international headquarters to the UK is a strategic decision that supports both our growth in the UK market and our international growth as the UK is home to many of our international lending, contracting and EPC partners, as well as the home country for a large pool of Louis Berger talent who play business and project leadership roles around the globe,” said Thomas Topolski, Louis Berger’s international president, who has also relocated to West London with his famlily.
Wherever you are in the world, it’s been hard to escape political discussion of late and we had to ask Topolski about the recent UK vote to leave the European Union. And he is upbeat; “We made the decision to move from Paris to London before the Brexit vote. Even if it would have happened sooner, it wouldn’t have affected our move. I think the business environment is going to improve with Brexit. We view Brexit not as an event but as a process. So it will take time to see how it really involves but in terms of our business it really helps us rather than hinders us.”
And on the election of Donald Trump, Topolski also sees positives for the industry, and perhaps even for UK engineers: “If our President-Elect makes good on his promise to invest as much as he says he will on infrastructure, there’s not enough engineers in the US to do this. So there may be an opportunity to bring over some engineers from the UK to work on these projects.”
Louis Berger plans to initially focus on strengthening established relationships with private industry partners based in the United Kingdom. The company is also assessing broader opportunities to partner and bid specific to the rail, highway, power, and water markets, where Louis Berger will aim to to leverage its global expertise as a strong local partner.
With Louis Berger working across so many sectors, we asked Edward Searle, Vice President, Rail & Transit International where rail fits into their plans; “As a company we have many verticals, but rail is very important indeed. I see rail as the growth opportunity, not just in the UK but across the world. The advantage in the UK is that British rail engineering is respected around the world. So coming to the UK, having an office here and having access to this massive talent pool is a superb bonus.”
Jesper S. Damgaard, Senior Vice President, Managing Director, Europe also reiterates the potential; “We are already very busy in Europe. To list just a few projects, we've done high-speed rail in Spain and are doing railway design in Eastern Europe, places like Serbia, Romania, Macedonia. A number of European countries will have investment in high-speed rail in the coming years, not just the UK but Sweden, Turkey and in Germany there’s a large refurbishment of their rail system coming up. A lot of it now has to live up to European signalling standards. So there’s a lot of work to be done, from brownfield projects and de-bottle necking, to greenfield projects and beyond. We are looking out for large, complex rail projects where we can add value.”
Most of Louis Berger’s international corporate management will be based in the U.K. The company also will be scaling up project staff and working to establish a U.K.-based operation that will offer the full suite of services provided by Louis Berger. The company’s global headquarters will remain in Morristown, New Jersey, USA.
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