New York City-based engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti has acquired UK security consultancy MFD in a bid to broaden its security offerings for design of building features and systems to block intruders and prevent damage and casualties from violent attacks.
The England-based firm, whose divisions are MFD International and MFD Security, has worked on "hostile vehicle mitigation" at Heathrow Airport, physical and electronic security design for the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and blast mitigation for Crossrail train stations in London, says TT.
The new parent says Its offerings complement Thornton Tomasetti Defence Ltd., which provides services to military clients, as well as TT’s operational and technical security services, which have expertise in counterterrorism, theft prevention, cybersecurity, and electronic and physical security.
With the acquisition, TT hopes to leverage MFD’s dominance in Europe and strengthen its offerings in the U.S. and globally, executives say.
Peter DiMaggio, a TT senior principal and the head of protective design, says the transaction, whose financial terms were not disclosed, allows the firm to “have the ability to provide project-specific security to banks, federal buildings, museums” and other buildings that could be targets for bombings or vehicle attacks on pedestrians.
The company will also provide hardware for thumb readers, retinal scans and other electronic security measures, while continuing to be involved with initial designs that “bring security to an architectural scheme,” says TT principal and European regional leader Phil Thompson.
Hostile vehicle mitigation solutions include barriers — either obvious or aesthetic, such as planters and sculptures — and designing spaces to keep would-be assailants away the main parts of buildings. Blast mitigation includes using materials that can minimize the effects of an explosion by limiting airborne glass, debris or structural collapse.
MFD reported revenue of $6 million in 2017. It has 26 staff members, plus about a dozen consultants. TT’s staff in the U.K. numbers about 70, and it also employs about 30 people in protective design in the U.S. Thompson says teams from Europe and the U.S. already work together and will further collaborate on worldwide projects.
But Europe has seen some pushback against security hardening, despite numerous attacks in France, Spain, Germany and other countries, with politicians and citizens worried about disrupting quality of life, Henrik Faerch, CEO of Danish barrier maker Damasec, told Reuters last year. The market is “growing but it’s growing slowly,” he said.
Still, the deal comes just two days after a suspected terror attack in Paris, in which an unidentified suspect fatally stabbed one person, wounded four others and tried to enter several nearby bars and restaurants before police killed him, according to the BBC.
It was just one of a number of recent terror-related incidents in France that include a vehicle attack on pedestrians in Nice in 2016 and an assault by gunmen on concertgoers in Paris in 2015. Other recent vehicle attacks in Europe include one in 2017 in Barcelona, when Younes Abouyaaqoub drove a van into a crowd, killing 30 and injuring 130 more.
“Almost everybody is feeling vulnerable,” DiMaggio says.