Hill International’s recent acquisition of Turkey-based IMS is a logical outcome of two companies working successfully in the past two years that are now guided by a goal of jointly achieving greater heights. “Just like us, they are very specialized and focused and also provide project management and design review services,” said Raouf Ghali, Hill’s Chief Operating Officer. “Regionally, a US company with Turkish management makes the probability of success quite high as they understand the political climate and culture and have better knowledge of doing business in Turkey and the CIS states than we do as an international company there.” His statements came in mid-April, after Hill announced that it bought out IMS Proje Yonetimi ve Danismanlik A.S., a firm that provides PM services for international developers, institutional investors and major retailers.
The company, with its headquarters in Istanbul and employing nearly 80 professionals, was founded in 1989 and has since provided hundreds of commercial real estate projects in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. IMS also offers a wide range of high-quality services, including project development, design management, construction management, monitoring, due diligence and other consulting services. As the largest PM firm in Turkey, Hill has seen ample reason to work hand-in-hand with IMS in the recent past, Ghali said, noting the association has been yielding favorable results of late in securing new contracts in Turkey and the CIS region.
“The feedback from the markets is so positive and encouraging that we should expect new opportunities, particularly from international developers that have Turkey in their radar,” said Serdar Gucar, President of IMS and now also Vice President and Managing Director of Turkish operations for Hill’s Project Management Group. “Our performance in Kazakhstan is very attentively watched by the key market players. Our success in the existing projects will increase the interest in HILL-IMS blended services; even for those developers that do not assign PM companies for their developments,” Gucar said.
The acquisition, Ghali said, also made sense in terms of regional focus of Hill International and also drawing on the synergies of both companies. “We have a small unit in Turkey, while IMS has a fairly-large organization,” he said.
The upside will be most visible in the public sector where Hill’s background and references with EU-funded projects will allow for the “united” company to move at a fast pace and also strike deeper roots in that region. There is a lot of room for growth not just in Turkey, but also Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, to name a few among the CIS states, Ghali said.
The relationship between Hill and IMS has already been established in Kazakhstan where both companies are working for Expo 2017 in the capital Astana for a Turkish developer who has been assigned by the government to develop and build most venues. Together, the team is assisting with reporting to the government on project progress and with monitoring, managing and ensuring the facilities gets built on-time.
With some of the CIS markets holding a promise that can be as large as the Persian Gulf states, several new opportunities now lie ahead under the Hill/IMS deal, Ghali said. In Turkey, all eyes will be on major infrastructure works planned in the public sector, while lots of hospitals are planned to be built under the private-public-partnership (PPP) model.
“We will continue with IMS on civil and private sector projects and then potentially get into the oil and gas sector too. Istanbul will be the center for managing all Turkey and CIS states,” Ghali pointed out. Undoubtedly, the IMS deal will hasten Hill’s growth in a geographical entity and given its past relationships the integration of both companies will be smooth. Acquisition has been a hallmark of Hill’s growth and more deals will be planned as the company charts its growth plan. “But for now we will digest the IMS deal and flourish,” Ghali said.
By: Ashok Dutta