UK-listed services giant Wood has signed an agreement to sell its "built environment" consulting business to Montreal-headquartered WSP Global for about $1.9 billion.

The sale has been seen by some analysts as important to shoring up Wood’s balance sheet, with the company’s cash performance for the coming year expected to take a hit from higher costs.

Outgoing Wood chief executive Robin Watson said: "This transaction will deliver significant value for our shareholders and marks a new chapter for Wood.

“It enables us to move onto our next strategic phase with the financial flexibility to accelerate our strategy to capture the growth opportunities ahead across both energy security and sustainability.

"We are focused now on the steps to complete this deal and in further developing our strategy, which we will outline in detail at a capital markets day, when my successor as chief executive is in place.”

Completion of the deal is expected in the second half of this year.

Watson said in April he plans to retire after six years in charge of the FTSE-250 company once a successor has been found.