According to the 2009 Merger & Acquisition Survey, a recent study by Wayland, Mass.-based ZweigWhite, 71% percent of architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms plan to conduct a merger or acquisition in the next five years. Promises of geographic expansion and adding new clients are motivating potential buyers to grow through acquisition, the survey found. With firm valuations down from their pre-recession highs and firm owners of the Baby-Boom generation nearing retirement age, many firms are sensing this is an opportune time to buy.

“Right now, an acquisition makes good business sense, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy,” says Gregory Hart, a consultant with ZweigWhite who specializes in merger and acquisition advisory services. “In fact, some experts estimate that more than half of all mergers or acquisitions either fail to meet expectations or actually diminish shareholder value, so it’s crucial that firms do their homework before going through with a deal. That means understanding and articulating the strategic context, getting the most mileage out of due diligence efforts, and following through on integration. This may sound ominous or overwhelming, but it shouldn’t. Through in-house and outside resources, building a solid team of trusted advisors can make the process go a lot smoother.”

Gregory Hart’s white paper, “Beating the Odds: Five Proven Strategies for Seeking Growth through Mergers or Acquisitions,” is available free of charge for download.