Only a small inner circle of senior staff at BDP had any inkling of what was about to happen when, in March, the practice’s imminent sale emerged in a notice on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The 55-year-old British stalwart had agreed to a £102 million buyout by Japanese engineering consultant Nippon Koei. One of the nation’s best-known architectural institutions was now a subsidiary of a 3,000-strong company unknown to many in Europe, other than for its failed bid for Hyder in 2014.
Nippon Koei’s opening gambit for the UK’s second-largest practice came in October last year and, according to BDP’s chief executive John McManus, ‘was completely unsolicited’. However, the advances from Nippon Koei, with its huge international workload, were not unwelcome. And the timing was impeccable.
‘In August we’d held a board of directors awayday and were becoming concerned about how UK-centric we were,’ admits McManus. ‘The public-spending indicators for the next two years were worrying us.’
Read the full profile by Richard Waite here