Spanish subsidiary plans partnership with Amey to target one-off health and education schemes in Britain.
Support services group Amey will team up with Spanish parent Ferrovial for the first time early next year to pitch for PFI health and education projects.

Amey directors recently flew to Spain for talks with Agroman, Ferrovial's construction arm, about several one-off projects the firms could pitch for together.

Mel Ewell, chief executive of Amey, said: "I would not be surprised if Amey came to the market with Agroman on a partnership basis on one or two projects by early next year."

Ewell added: "We are a stand-alone services business; it is a stand-alone construction firm. During the normal course of business when we are looking at PFI, we will be asking if Agroman wants to join us."

The Ferrovial subsidiaries are believed to have identified several target projects in health and education. Ewell said the move did not mark a full-blown entry into the UK market for Agroman. He said it would only target one-off schemes.

However, industry sources are speculating that the two firms might start an assault on the UK health market, where there only a few major players.

Ferrovial bought Amey in June for £81m after a difficult year for the company. It suffered a £129.5m loss in 2002, £121.5m of which was because of exceptional items.

The Ferrovial deal came just in time to rescue Amey's £60m stake in the biggest public–private partnership contract in Europe, the London Underground. Tube Lines consortium partners Jarvis and Bechtel agreed to take over the financial burden of the project temporarily when Amey was at the nadir of its financial problems late last year. Amey was set a deadline of 30 June to buy back the stake, which Ferrovial covered.

Ewell came in as chief executive after the resignation of Brian Staples in January.

Staples was widely blamed for Amey's problems at the time. He received an £800,000 pay-off when he formally left at the end of February.

Chairman Ian Robinson was asked to stay on to help the company's post-sale transition. Ferrovial and Robinson will review his position at the end of this year.