Sweett’s “busy year” ends with $28m loss

Sweett Group, the British cost consultant that was bought by WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff last month for $35m, has announced a loss of $28m (£19.1m) for the year to 31 March.

The high losses – almost a third of its $112m total earnings – were the result of its disposal of its subsidiaries in China, Southeast Asia, Australia and India.

The decision to sell was forced by the company’s indebtedness. The businesses were bought by Currie & Brown, a subsidiary of Beirut-based Dar Group.

As a result, revenue from the businesses fell from $43.5m to $25.5m.

Following the sale, the company reduced its debt from $14.1m to $3.8m. However, a dispute over the valuation of the assets will result in a further payment of $1.9m to Currie & Brown, it was announced yesterday (8 June).

Douglas McCormick, Sweett Group chief executive (Sweett Group)

Douglas McCormick, the chief executive of the company (pictured), said: "It’s been a busy year for Sweett Group, a year in which we have delivered against all the key strategic priorities outlined in the spring of 2015.

"We have sold the Asia-Pacific and India businesses, announced our exit from the Middle East, concluded the legacy Serious Fraud Office (SFO) issues and restructured the group to operate across five separate regions.

"Most recently, it was announced on 25 May 2016 that the board had reached agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer by WSP to acquire the company at 35p per share, a premium of approximately 52.2% to the share price on the preceding day.  

"I look forward with great enthusiasm as we embark on the next stage of our journey."

The firm’s five regions are: London and the South-east, England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, Europe and North America. Sweett said this reorganisation had "significantly improved accountability and re-energised the business".

An internal inquiry into allegations of bribery in the Middle East cost the company $2m, and the SFO prosecution referred to by McCormick added fines of $3.3m.

The WSP deal comes as Sweett negotiates with the Bank of Scotland about future funding, as its current arrangements are due to expire this month.

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