John Early, chairman of Amec’s development arm, set to lead UK infrastructure business after company splits

John Early, the chairman of Amec’s development arm, has been tipped to take over the helm of its infrastructure business when the company splits in two, as is expected this year.

Early, who is one of the country’s leading regeneration experts after his work on Manchester’s Hulme estate in the early 1990s, is understood to have been asked to consider the post by Amec chief executive Sir Peter Mason.

Amec is due to divide into two quoted companies – an oil and process industries business and a UK infrastructure business, which will include Early’s current responsibilities of development and PPP investment. This split is a result of its difficulties last year when Amec announced a £70m hit on key contracts and put Spie, its French services group, up for sale.

A final board decision to divide the company will take place after a Spie deal is agreed. If the split goes ahead they will run as separate entities, with the energy firm listed under the FTSE’s oil support services and the infrastructure group in the FTSE’s gas and support services sectors.

A senior market analyst said: “Sir Peter Mason would like John Early to do the chief executive job at infrastructure, but appointing Alan Lovell would give greater credibility.”

Lovell is chief executive of Jarvis but is leaving in April, having saved the company from collapse. The analyst believes that his clout in the City would help investors gain confidence.

A spokesperson for Amec insisted that it was too early to speculate about appointments. He said: “Until the board makes the decision on what will happen next with the business there will be no discussions about appointments.”

However, a senior Amec source said that various possibilities had been discussed before Christmas.

If Early were to take the reins at the UK infrastructure company it seems likely that Mason would head the oil business. It has been speculated that this is where the Amec board sees the future of the business. This could leave Early’s new company as a takeover target.

All change: How Amec will look after the split

Energy and process industries

Oil and gas
Environmental consultancy
Industrial and mining businesses

UK infrastructure

PPP portfolio
Property investments
Wind energy investments
Design and project services (including construction)
Building and facilities management