EUROPE - Watson Wyatt is intending to take over the established German consultancy firm Dr Dr Heissmann.

Acquisition of the 52-year old German firm will see Watson Wyatt leap to become one of Germany's top consultancies and its team will expand from 50 to 350 employees.

"This is exciting news for us," a spokesman for Watson Wyatt told IPE.

"Germany has always been permeated by the domestic German firms. For international consultants it has always been difficult. We have a reasonably-sized team and they have been doing well but to really make this breakthrough it had to be by acquisition."

In a statement, Heissmann confirmed the takeover plans, saying a declaration of intent was signed yesterday. "With Watson Wyatt as global partner we can excellently serve our clients - including those in the growing Asian market."

Dr Dr Heissmann will be re-named Watson Wyatt Heissmann after a successful acquisition and all of the German firm's staff will be taken on. "That is what we are buying, really - it is a people business," the spokesman confirmed.

Watson Wyatt will also take on Heissmann subsidiaries in Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Austria together with a total of 60 staff members. It will be the first time Watson Wyatt has had a representative present in Austria.

"The companies are aiming to sign a definitive agreement by the beginning of July, subject to obtaining the necessary regulatory consents," Watson Wyatt said in a statement.

The former owners of Heissman are Allianz Leben, the Management and until recently Buck Consultants. The Buck offices in Belgium, Spain and the UK will not become part of Watson Wyatt.

In January, Watson Wyatt had bought its Dutch alliance partner Watson Wyatt Brans & Co.