London SW1-based Technology Project Services Plc, which supplies consultants, engineers and technical staff on a contract hire basis to UK and European clients, has been acquired by the Geneva-based control and inspection service group Societe Generale de Surveillance Holding SA for UKP16m in cash. The offer is 325 pence in cash for every 10 pence share in Technology Project and there is a loan note alternative which offers shareholders a UKP1 loan note for every UKP1 of the cash offer. These notes will carry interest at a floating rate set at 1% below the six month London Inter-Bank Offered Rate. Technology Project was established as a business in the UK in 1971 under the name Consultants & Designers UK. At that point it was a subsidiary of the US Greyhound Corp, but in 1984 the management staged a buyout and the company began trading under its current name. It floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1986 and now operates in the aerospace, defence and electronics, telecommunications, and process and power industries. In the last financial year it saw pre-tax profits rise 45% to just under UKP2m on turnover up 20% at UKP58m (CI No 1,393). When Technology Project came to the market in 1986, its prospectus said that the company chairman Mr Avery would retire on his sixtieth birthday, at which point he would sell his 30% shareholding in the company and offers to buy the whole company would be welcome. Well Mr Avery is now 60 and Technology Project received a lot of offers, but settled for that by SGS. Evidently, several French and English water boards put in offers, but Avery said Technology Project had no desire to be part of a water board. SGS, on the other hand, while not in the engineering consultancy business, shared a lot of customers with Technology Project and seems a good fit. While Avery says SGS’s offer was fair but not great (Technology Project’s shares were suspended at 330 pence, five points above the offer), he sees it as an opportunity for the company to grow on the continent. It will be run as an independent SGS subsidiary but will be used to build up a UKP100m business in engineering consultancy via acquisitions to be made in Europe and the US. So far the offer has been accepted by shareholders representing 61% of Technology Project’s shares. Mr Avery says he may re-emerge next year as a consultant advising SGS on its acquisition strategy in the consultancy market.