WSP Global Inc. said it has sold a company unit specializing in military operations and maintenance, transportation asset management and security services that had been part of its $400-million acquisition of Berger Group Holdings Inc. in 2018.

The Montreal-based firm said Aug. 7 that Louis Berger Services Inc. (LBS), with a staff of about 1,400, was purchased by Versar Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based engineering, environmental and security services company.  

Financial transaction terms were not disclosed.

WSP Global said LBS “specializes in operations and maintenance services for complex infrastructure assets at mission-essential defense and civilian facilities worldwide.”

According to the firm, LBS is a federal sector specialist in “aerial port operations, contingency logistics and ground support services," and also provides “heavy vehicle maintenance for defense and security customers, as well as transportation asset maintenance services to U.S. state and local customers."

A WSP Global spokeswoman said the LBS unit “is not WSP’s core market," with the former parent’s current “focus on capitalizing on its core markets and expanding in key complementary areas offering significant growth opportunities." 

WSP Global ranks at No. 4 on ENR's list of Top 150 Global Design Firms, with 42% of its $8.28 billion in 2022 global design revenue reported in transportation and 21% in buildings.

"Since the acquisition of Berger Holdings in 2018, LBS was identified as non-core and was not integrated into WSP operations," said the spokeswoman. "Our focus was to increase the performance and profitability of LBS before proceeding with the sale." 

She did not respond to a question related to integration of other acquired units of Berger Holdings, with ENR reporting at the time a total of about 5,000 employees added to the global giant's staff, with about 70% in the U.S.  

WSP Global now has more than 67,000 employees.

The 2018 acquisition followed a 2015 Berger Holdings government settlement in a past overseas bribe scheme involving several former company executives. 

At the time of the purchase, Berger reported $731 million in global revenue for the prior year— 44% in transportation, 25% in power and 11% in environment-related work. 

LBS had 500 employees when it became part of WSP. “At this stage, the timing was good for WSP to divest and for LBS to continue to grow with a new partner,” the WSP spokeswoman said.

Versar CEO Jim Jaska said the two firms’ “complementary service offerings will allow us to leverage each other’s customers and capabilities."

Versar has three operating segments: environment and sustainability, national security and installation management and support services. It reported 2022 revenue of $87.15 million, with $22.8 million in environmental services. Federal clients made up 90% of the environmental revenue last year, it reported.

The firm acquired the environmental services unit of Black & Veatch in 2021, also for an undisclosed amount, which does remediation, assessment and design primarily federal clients such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Army Corps of Engineers.

The firm is owned by private equity firm Kingswood Capital Management.

A Versar spokeswoman said LBS clients include "'primarily service branches within the US Department of Defense but also multiple state agencies." She added,."There is very little overlap of services or customers, but the combined organization provides the opportunity to extend services to customers’ broader mission requirements."  

Jiri Maly, CEO of LBS since 2016 and former managing director of global infrastructure for CIBC Capital Markets, has joined Versar, said WSP Global, but his new corporate title was not provided.