HARWELL-based environmental consultancy AEA Technology has snapped up US rival Eastern Research Group for £60m in cash and shares.

The company aims to win more orders in the US to offset Government spending cuts in its home market.

The company, which advises governments and private businesses, said in August that it expects to bid for about £3m of projects in the United States this year. AEA is also planning to change its corporate structure by creating AEATG, incorporated in Jersey, as its holding company.

AEA, which is advising the Twickenham rugby stadium on how to reduce its carbon footprint, expects the deal to close on about November 8.

AEA shares, which have lost more than a third of their value since the start of the year, have been temporarily suspended on the London Stock Exchange.

The company, which was privatised in 1996 from part of the former UK Atomic Energy Authority, employs 430 people at its Harwell headquarters. In June it said that new US contracts were compensating for UK public spending cuts.