A spokesperson for Bovis Lend Lease this week laughed off the rumours, saying: "If you believed all the rumours emanating from Australia about Lend Lease, we would have been sold five times in the past three years. These rumours have been going around for at least a year – there is no truth in them whatsoever."
One leading Bovis client said the speculation over Lend Lease had intensified after its chief executive David Higgins announced that he would stand down in May. The source said he did not believe that Bovis was about to be sold but added: "I think Lend Lease is looking to sell an investment arm in the US. This will leave it to concentrate on offering a total property service, which includes construction."
An Australian analyst said that the sale of Lend Lease would become more likely if its construction arm was sold.
But he added that a hostile takeover of Lend Lease would be unlikely as employees hold a 14% stake and a buyer would require 90% shareholder approval.