All change at construction group as takeover talk continues.

Construction and infrastructure group Amec says it is to sell French engineering unit Spie, and split its remaining operations in to two separate companies. It says that the sale is not related to the rumours of a Spanish takeover bid, which have continued apace despite both AMEC and Acciona – the firm believed to have made the approach – refusing to comment on the situation. Spie, which had sales of £2bn last year, is likely to be sold early in 2006.

AMEC says it will now concentrate on its UK infrastructure. Chief executive Peter Mason said: “Amec has grown three substantial businesses, which increasingly represent different investment propositions. We do not have the resources to fully exploit the prospects in all three of our businesses and still achieve the growth and returns we want.”

Speculation about a possible takeover began when Toscafield, a hedge fund company, was named as a large shareholder. Shares in AMEC, which is on the shortlist for the £1.7bn contract to manage the construction of the Olympic park in east London, have risen by more than 10% in the last month. The group is now valued at £1.2bn, and says that since increasing its involvement in the nuclear clean-up market Amec Nuclear has become Britain’s largest private sector nuclear services company.

The Guardian said yesterday that city analysts had described AMEC as “a suitable candidate for takeover”.

AMEC also plans to exit the construction business in markets including the USA, a move that could cost £70m in closure and litigation.