Navigant buys European energy & sustainability consultancy Ecofys

07 November 2016

Navigant has acquired Ecofys, a European consultancy firm specialised in energy and sustainability. Roughly 150 consultants across four countries, including the UK, will join Navigant’s energy arm.

Founded in 1984, in the Netherlands, Ecofys has over the past three decades grown into one of Europe’s larger consulting firms specialised in energy, with a focus on sustainability matters. Today the consultancy has a team of around 150 consultants and staff, operating from bases in the Netherlands (headquarter), Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.

This morning Thijs Aarten, CEO and Managing Director of Ecofys, unveiled that the firm has decided to join the ranks of Navigant, with approximately 2,500 employees in 40+ offices one of the globe’s largest management consulting firms. The firm is being acquired from Eneco, a Dutch energy supplier, which has owned Ecofys since 2009 when it bought the consultancy as part of a larger deal.

The addition of Ecofys enhances Navigant’s capabilities and solution offerings in the energy landscape, providing the firm with, among others, additional expertise in the areas of energy policy, climate strategies and policies, energy systems, urban energy, and sustainability services.

Navigant acquires EcofysNavigant’s Energy arm already boasted a strong track record in the consulting industry – according to analyst reports released in recent years – and with the bolt-on of Ecofys the firm further advances its competitive edge in the realm, in particular in Europe. The US firm currently has offices in Birmingham and Londen, with no further presence across mainland Europe, while Ecofys has hubs in Utrecht, Berlin, Cologne and Brussels.

The addition also brings a range of accolades – Ecofys work for instance stood at the basis of the work which won the Nobel Peace Prize for contributions on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – and large clients to Navigant's portfolio, including the World Bank, the European Commission and a range of corporates.

Commenting on the deal, Jan Vrins, Managing Director and leader of Navigant’s Energy segment, says “The addition of Ecofys strengthens Navigant’s energy solutions to our clients, creating robust capabilities for governments, utility companies, industry, and new entrants.” Vrins, who is one of the lead partners for Navigant’s support to New York’s REV Connect initiative, adds: “This will better enable our clients to effectively respond to and capitalise on the global transformation within the energy sector.” 

Ecofys’ CEO, Dutchman Thijs Aarten, believes the move represents a win-win. By integrating into a larger consulting firm, Ecofys can benefit from Navigant’s global reach, and for clients, the joining of forces will lead to broader and deeper expertise in strategy and implementation, “which will enable our clients to adapt to the ongoing energy and climate transition.” The energy consulting firm will for the time being continue to operate under its own brand.

Jeroen de Haas, CEO of Eneco, says he is pleased with the divestment to Navigant (financial terms have not been disclosed) and adds that he is confident that the two consulting groups will be a good match. “Ecofys has delivered value to Eneco and I am confident that with Navigant, it will continue to thrive.”

Earlier this year Navigant bought Dymedex Consulting, a US-based medical consulting specialist, and Goonan Performance Strategies, another US consultancy, specialised in leadership coaching and change management consulting.


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.