City sources this week claimed it would take acting finance director Eric Tracey until next year to get a clear picture of Amey's accounts.
The support services company was rocked last Wednesday when finance director Michael Kayser quit after just five weeks. He had reportedly clashed with chief executive Brian Staples over how much the group's assets were worth.

Tracey, a partner from accountant Deloitte & Touche and an expert in PFI, has been appointed interim finance director. Amey said he would be there until at least March next year. A permanent finance director will be appointed after that.

"Amey is a complex company with lots of joint ventures and investments," said an analyst. "It is all about credibility – and at the moment Amey has, rightly or wrongly, very little."

Kayser's departure last Wednesday led to a fall in Amey's share price to 26p – compared with 435p a year ago – and put more pressure on Staples.

It is all about credibility – and at the moment Amey has, rightly or wrongly, very little

City analyst

Shareholders have demanded meetings with Staples and other executives after the group's dire stock market performance. Amey's shares have been hit by a series of accounting shocks and executive departures that have lowered investors' confidence.

Staples is adamant that he will not resign, but analysts believe he will be forced to go unless he comes up with something to placate shareholders soon. "Whether it will be enough to save him is another matter. If they want him out, they will get him out by threatening to sell their shares," one analyst said.

Amey's plight was not helped when it emerged that Meditor Capital Management, a firm that specialises in taking stakes in struggling companies, had increased its stake in Amey from less than 3% to nearly 15%. This led to speculation that Meditor may use its stake to push for Amey to be broken up and sold or to launch a takeover bid.