Australian developer likely to sell off UK contractor, possibly to Multiplex, if its £3.6bn bid for rival group succeeds
Speculation was mounting this week over the future of Bovis after its parent, Lend Lease, announced a £3.6bn takeover bid for General Property Trust, which has extensive holdings in Australia.

Construction analyst Mark Ebbinhaus, who works in Sydney at UBS Warburg, said that Lend Lease's land business would link up with GPT well but that Bovis was not a natural fit with GPT.

As Building went to press on Wednesday, the Australian financial market had reacted badly to the Lend Lease bid and the share price of the developer had fallen 5%.

This has prompted Australian construction firm Multiplex to emerge as a potential rival bidder for GPT. Leading industry sources have suggested that Multiplex may also consider a bid for Bovis, or even for the whole of Lend Lease.

A senior industry source said: "Multiplex is waiting in the wings to make a GPT bid, but may also go after Lend Lease. Multiplex is keen to have a larger presence in the UK to capitalise on the UK industry's contractor capacity shortages."

The source said that Multiplex chairman, John Roberts, had recently been in the UK looking at the possibility of buying a contractor.

Multiplex is waiting to make a GPT bid but may also go after Lend Lease

Senior industry source

"Multiplex wants to capitalise on its existing UK presence; by acquiring Bovis there is an existing cultural fit as they are both Australian-owned firms," said the source.

A spokesperson for Lend Lease said the rumours that Bovis would be sold as part of the proposed takeover was "speculation and completely unfounded". The spokesperson said: "Bovis is an integral part of Lend Lease's future strategy."

He added that he was not aware of any approach by Multiplex.

Lend Lease is a property investment and construction company with interests throughout the world. Its rival General Property Trust has interests in more than $7bn of office blocks, shopping centres and hotels in Australia.