Webuild-Clough: great public works for Australia’s future

Webuild closes deal to acquire Clough assets

A transport link between Brisbane and Melbourne, a huge hydroelectric plant to power homes and businesses, a metro line that will connect Sydney to a new airport: these are some of the strategic infrastructure projects that Webuild will deliver in the coming years in Australia. They are public works that will contribute to the country’s growing economy and improve the lives of its growing communities in a more sustainable way.

Today, Australia is a key market for Webuild. Its importance to the group’s order backlog has increased from 1% in 2018 to 14% in the first half of 2022. Similarly, Australia accounted for 14% of revenues for the same period, up from 3% in 2018. This strong growth rate is the result of Webuild’s effort to win of what it expects will amount to €300 billion worth of projects between 2022 and 2025.

Indeed, Australia is investing significantly in public infrastructure. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are cities where metro and light rail lines are being built, among other projects.

Webuild’s acquisition of Clough will give it an order backlog of more than €12 billion in the country, and a combined workforce of approximately 3,000, making it a key player in the country capable of tackling even the most challenging of projects.

Webuild and Clough, the key infrastructures at the heart of the deal

The combining of Clough and Webuild is the meeting of two groups specialised in infrastructure with a long history and an ambitious present.

The new group will have the expertise and experience of Clough, a company with deep roots in Australia, having been founded in 1919 and involved in some of the country’s biggest projects. It will then have the standing of a multinational group that operates on five continents and is responsible for projects centred on the principles of sustainability in Australia.

Webuild agreed in early February to buy Clough’s organisation, including offices, trademarks, credentials, business references, senior management and office personnel, more than €4 billion worth of order backlog, and the related project workforces. The deal guarantees the jobs of 1,100 Clough personnel, who will become essential to completing projects in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The acquisition will bring synergies to ongoing projects, especially the two where the companies are working together: Snowy 2.0, one of the most ambitious hydroelectric projects in Australian history, and the Inland Rail Gowrie-Kagaru Section, part of a new freight railway that will connect Brisbane to Melbourne. There are other future projects for which Clough has been identified as preferred bidder, making it one step from being awarded the contract to build them. They amount to €1.6 billion worth of new works in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The meaning of a strategic deal

Bringing the two companies together means not only sharing in some of Australia’s most challenging projects, but also tying Webuild’s present to that of a company with a long history in the local building sector. In 1919, John and Bill Clough founded Clough Brothers, the seedling that grew into one of the best-known companies in Australia’s engineering and construction sector. Starting from its home base in Perth, it expanded across Australia and through the years delivered complex and iconic projects in over 30 countries like Canada, Hong Kong, USA, Mongolia among others. Today, Clough is recognised as a pioneering engineering and contruction company with focus on delivering a sustainable future.

Webuild aims to safeguard this historical heritage and the know-how acquired over the years by safeguarding the local staff and structure. In this way, Webuild will be able to strengthen its organisational and engineering structure in Australia, benefit from economies of scale, and diversify into other sectors such as energy and defence.