Singapore's Surbana Jurong intends ongoing expansion after rapid growth

12 April 2018 Authored by Consultancy.asia

Singaporean infrastructure and development consultancy Surbana Jurong will continue to pursue its rapid growth ambitions after a string of pick-ups in the past few years and the recent formation of a consortium to compete for overseas airport development contracts.

Recently cited by the Singapore Ministry of Finance as a home-grown success story in its industry roadmap to boost the professional services sector in the country, the locally-owned urban, industrial and infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong appears far from content to rest on its laurels, announcing plans to continue its dynamic growth after a string of successful recent acquisitions saw the firm ahead of its targets.

In an interview with Singapore’s Business Times, Surbana Jurong CEO Wong Heang Fine stated the consulting firm’s revised target to more than double its revenue to S$3.8 billion over the next three to five years while boosting its global headcount to 20,000 from its current workforce of 13,500, having already more than tripled in size in both staff and revenues since its 2015 inception with the merger of Surbana and Jurong International.

The firm’s strategy since has been to broaden its scope of technical service capabilities and extend its geographical presence, and this looks set to continue with Wong announcing that the group was on the hunt for further acquisitions of a diverse local and international profile, including two architecture firms in the works which would see Surbana Jurong enter the upper-league of international engineering service providers.

Wong Heang Fine, Chief Executive Officer - Surbana Jurong

“We should be able to announce this in two to three months' time. After the acquisitions, we will probably be in the top 20 engineering firms in the world by international fees,” Wong said. “So far, the businesses acquired by Surbana Jurong have few overlaps. We are quite strategic in the way we go about acquiring skillsets. We don't acquire just because of the numbers, but whether they will fit in with us in terms of the capabilities, competence, talent base and more importantly, the core values."

This approach has so far seen the additions of Singapore engineering company KTP Consultants, Chinese design firm Sinosun Architects & Engineering, and Australian infrastructure specialists SMEC in a deal worth S$400 million, along with its most recent acquisition of the Robert Bird Group, an Australian engineering firm active in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and UK – adding to the firm’s increasingly global profile across 40 countries, with Wong stating that the firm would be looking to further expand its presence in Europe and the Americas in the coming two years.

In addition to the acquisitions, Surbana Jurong has been following a parallel path of organic growth, in terms of both diversification and business activities. The former will see the firm form a capital funding arm SJ Capital later this year, to invest seed money into the development of infrastructural projects toward greater financing, with further plans to branch out into new fields such as healthcare and economic planning as well as explore opportunities in specialised areas like data centres and subterranean power stations.

New Consortium

The latter organic growth strategy, meanwhile, can be epitomised by last month’s announcement that the firm had joined with fellow Singaporean companies ST Engineering and Changi Airport Planners to pool their expertise in a bid to capitalise on the booming airport development sector in the Asia Pacific as the number of local projects continues to grow. With their complementary capabilities, the consortium will be able to offer advanced technological end-to-end solutions across the broad range of airport operations.

Wong said of the announcement, “As one of the largest Asia-based urban and infrastructure consulting firms, Surbana Jurong’s strengths lie in the ability to weave airports into the surrounding urban fabrics, creating vibrant aerotropoli that boost the economic development of cities – the airport cities of the future… With this collaboration with CAPE and ST Engineering, we are able to offer a complete integrated solution for aviation clients globally.”

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