US group takes controlling stake in Walker Sime, with pledge of new recruitment

From left: Duncan Firth, Jon Sime, Jim Hamann, Dez Walker

A US design and project management team has taken a controlling stake in Manchester construction consultancy Walker Sime.

Otak, part of the HanmiGlobal Group, is based in Portland, Oregon, employing 350 staff. In 2011 it joined forces with HanmiGlobal, which has been a leader in promoting an advanced construction culture in the Korean market since 1996.

Walker Sime says the deal will enable is to build its capabilities and reach across the UK and beyond, accelerate its strategic plan and create more jobs.

Duncan Firth, Walker Sime managing director, said: “This partnership will allow us to accelerate our portfolio and expand our geographic footprint.

“It will allow us to remain focused on our core business; and through the expertise and presence of Otak and its parent company HanmiGlobal, we will have the opportunity to contribute to winning and delivering projects of real significance in advanced manufacturing and the low carbon economy.”

He added: “We deliberately chose not to accept just being a cog in a larger machine. That wasn’t a price we were willing to pay for investment. Otak is a partner that values our distinct culture and our people as essential to our growth.”

Walker Sime will remain an independent operating group and retain its existing management team, and brand.

Jim Hamann, Otak CEO, said: “Walker Sime has built an incredible reputation and culture deeply rooted in its people and their success with clients.

“It is a tremendous benefit to Walker Sime’s clients for Duncan and his team to draw on a broad set of expertise and experience as they take on some of the most exciting projects in the UK.”

Dez Walker, one of the original founders of Walker Sime, alongside Jon Sime, said: “We were looking for the right kind of partner – a partner who could support our growth but who also shared our values and culture.

“Otak isn’t interested in changing us. They are committed to supporting us, not subsuming us – to buying into us, not buying us. It was vital that any partner should enable us to continue our journey. Otak will.”

Jon Sime also gave an assurance on job security, saying:“There’s absolutely no risk to jobs from this move. We’re going to need more people, not fewer, and our people will benefit from the career growth opportunities this investment will bring, both in the UK and abroad.

“Otak’s investment opens an exciting new chapter for Walker Sime and ensures that whatever we do in the future and wherever we do it, it’ll be done the Walker Sime way.”

Pannone Corporate advised Walker Simon on the deal. Corporate partner Tim Hamilton led the deal, with support from Miranda Foy and Bez Borang.