Quarry plant services and utility divisions set to follow accommodation business in trade sale

Carillion is poised to offload the first divisions of the Alfred McAlpine business, which it bought for £574m in February.

According to industry sources, the £3.3bn-turnover group put Alfred McAlpine Plant Services up for sale for an estimated £20m at the beginning of May.

The division, which made a profit of £2.5m on turnover of £25m in 2007, includes an outsourcing service to the quarry industry and an uninterruptible power supply business.

There is also speculation that Carillion may look to sell Alfred McAlpine Utility Services, the £290m-turnover engineering supplies group that made an operating profit of £6m in 2007.

Carillion regards both businesses as outside its core activities. It has already disposed of Carillion Asset Management, its modular accommodation business, which was bought by Speedy Hire for £11m last month.

According to one industry source: “The more Carillion divests its non-core assets the purer it becomes. It did the same last October when it sold off window cleaning subsidiary Pall Mall after buying Mowlem.”

It is understood that Carillion is looking for a trade sale rather than the private equity route for the plant services group.

According to one source, the deal will not involve the transfer of the Alfred McAlpine management team, as would be normal with a private equity sale.

Potential buyers of the plant business include Speedy Hire and BSS, but a sale may be made difficult by a lack of overlap between the quarry outsourcing business and the uninterruptible power supply operation.

Carillion was unavailable for comment.

This week Carillion realigned itself as a support services company on the stock exchange.

Where's the plant?

According to Carillion’s 2007 annual report, the merger will create:

A leading UK support services business

An enhanced capability to provide design, facilities management and private finance solutions

A strong, selective construction business