City expects UK giants to lead chase for JA Jones, the collapsed German contractor's prize asset.
UK construction giants Bovis Lend Lease and Balfour Beatty have been tipped to bid for JA Jones, the US subsidiary of collapsed German contractor Philipp Holzmann.

JA Jones is considered by the industry to be Holzmann's most valuable business and has already attracted interest from other German contractors.

City sources said this week that Bovis Lend Lease and Balfour Beatty were likely to be considering bids for JA Jones to increase their presence in the USA.

One analyst said: "JA Jones is the star prize in Holzmann's business. Balfour Beatty would be the most likely to have a look – especially its support services business."

Other City commentators suggested that Bovis Lend Lease was also keen.

JA Jones, which accounts for half of Holzmann's £4bn turnover, would be attractive to both UK firms. The firm, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is profitable, well run and operates throughout the USA. It has construction and civil engineering divisions as well as a lucrative facilities management business.

A sell-off of Holzmann's assets is likely, after Europe's ninth largest contractor filed for insolvency a week ago because of crippling debts and the sluggish German market.

Balfour Beatty may be the most keen to snap up JA Jones. It wants to increase its US presence and JA Jones would bring in higher value work.

It’s a great opportunity for the likes of Balfour to grow in the US

Leslie Kent, analyst, Seymour Pierce

Leslie Kent, analyst at investment house Seymour Pierce, said: "It's a great opportunity for the likes of Balfour Beatty to grow in the US.

Its existing business is very well run out there and JA Jones would increase that."

Balfour Beatty this week refused to comment.

Bovis Lend Lease is another firm with extensive US operations, and one of its businesses, McDevitt Street, is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Amec, which owns Agra, a Canada-based engineering and environmental consultant that also operates in the USA, was tipped as a possible purchaser. However, a spokesperson said it was not interested as the firm was focused on integrating Spie, its recently purchased French contractor.

German contractor Bilfinger Berger last week emerged as an early contender for JA Jones, when it announced that it was interested in parts of Holzmann's business. It did not name the US division specifically.