Bids for Mouchel remain unsuccessful

Costain, which has been rebuffed by take-over target Mouchel four times, said this week it has other options available should its bid fail.

David Allvey, Costain chairman, said: “We said that we would look at appropriate acquisition opportunities, an example of which is Mouchel Group, as well as organic growth. We are actively progressing a number of opportunities ranging from bolt-on transactions to those that are transformational.”

It is increasingly likely that Costain will be unsuccessful in its pursuit of Mouchel and it is right to look elsewhere, according to analysts. Kevin Cammack, analyst with Cenkos, said: “Other avenues are being pursued in the event of Mouchel getting away, which looks heavily odds on now.” While Andy Brown, Panmure Gordon analyst, said: “I’m not surprised they are looking elsewhere as it’s a natural development of their strategy. There are a number of small consultants or maintenance firms they could look at but Mouchel does tick a number of boxes.”

He added: “It does look like Mouchel has got away from them now but it’s telling that Costain and Interserve both want to perform due diligence. If there’s no Interserve bid, Costain could still go hostile.”

As it is in the formal offer period, Costain could not reveal any specific details of its intentions concerning Mouchel, leaving analysts guessing as to the likely outcome.

Costain defied a tough market last year and increased pre-tax profits by 54%. Turnover at the firm was £1.02bn in the year to 31 December 2010, down just £40m compared with 2009. Its pre-tax profit ended the year at £27.9m, which was up from £18.1m a year earlier.