International mergers continue to multiply, even in these bad economic times: RTKL has announced the acquisition of Beijing-based AHS International. In a simple asset purchase, the five-year-old, 43-person AHS becomes part of RTKL’s worldwide, interdisciplinary practice. AHS specializes in hospital, laboratory and medical facility design from offices in Beijing and Shanghai. The two firms recently collaborated on the design of the 2,200-bed Shanghai Changzheng New Pudong Hospital.

RTKL president and CEO Lance Josal noted in a press release that the acquisition gives RTKL a Beijing office, adding to the firm’s well-established presence in the Far East. “[M]ost importantly, it brings on board Kai Wang, a recognized leader in the design of hospitals and laboratories.” Josal said. Wang, the founder and managing principal of AHS, was educated in China and the United States. He is highly regarded for health care design in the Chinese market. AHS was initially established in Atlanta and Beijing, China, and has operated in China as a wholly owned foreign enterprise. The acronym stands for “Architecture for Healthcare and Science research facility.”

“There is a premium on knowledgeable healthcare design in China,” Wang said in the release. There would also appear to be a premium on design opportunities: The Chinese government has committed $125 billion over the next three years for the construction of national healthcare centers of 2,000 and more beds, regional centers of 1,000 beds, and specialized hospitals of 500 beds. “Opening a second office in China is part of RTKL’s broader commitment to markets that are developing world-class medical campuses,” added Brad Barker, RTKL executive vice president and managing director of the Health + Science Practice Group.

RTKL’s acquisition of AHS International follows its own sale to Netherlands-based Arcadis just three years ago. With recent reports on the economy’s rebound still tenuous at best, it remains to be seen how many more mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations are in the offing. With the significant new investments in health care by the Chinese government, the RTKL acquisition of AHS seems to be another example of the common business dictum “follow the money.”