Materials company Anglo-American says it is reviewing its options over its Tarmac subsidiary, amid rumours of a £3bn auction .

It is understood that Cynthia Carroll, the chief executive of Tarmac, is cutting costs in advance of a potential sale.

The move would be the latest in a string of deals in the materials sector, most recently HeidelbergCement’s £8bn purchase of Hanson.

French firm Lafarge is tipped to bid for Tarmac if a sale goes ahead, although analysts are also suggesting that Irish firm CRH could be interested, as may private equity groups and Mexican group Cemex.

One analyst said: “Lafarge must be favourite, although aggregates generate a lot of cash which will be attractive to private equity.”

Tarmac, which supplies aggregates, asphalt and concrete, has a turnover of about £2bn. In February it reported pre-tax profit for 2006 of £157m, a drop of 7%.