David Bucknall returns to lead management buyout of Citex days after it goes into administration.
The remaining part of consultant Citex has been bought out by its management and ex-chief executive David Bucknall. The deal involving the purchase of Citex Project Services for an undisclosed sum happened on Thursday after the firm was placed in administration.

Bucknall will become chairman of the business, which will immediately trade as Bucknall Austin. The £20m-turnover company will continue to be managed by Citex managing director Ann Bentley. Citex currently employs 325 staff and has offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.

Ernst & Young was appointed administrator of Citex Project Services on Monday. In a statement, Ernst & Young partner William Tacon said he had hoped that the firm would be quickly sold on.

Building understands that senior Citex managers were in talks over the future of the business on Wednesday. Sources claimed that rivals, including consultant AYH and contractor Interserve, were considering a bid for the firm. Both refused to comment on the rumours.

Market sources predicted that a quick deal could be struck to ensure the future of the Citex workforce. One source said: "It's not the business name that matters; it's all about the people."

The move into administration shocked rivals and former Citex employees. One ex-staff member said: "It's desperately sad." A rival added: "I never saw it coming."

Sources said the firm had instigated a recruitment freeze earlier in the month in the run-up to entering administration.

Trading goes on with a view to a going-concern sale

Ernst & Young statement

Last month, Building revealed that Bucknall was considering a return to Citex. He was chairman of listed QS Bucknall Austin until it underwent a management buyout, delisted and changed its name to Citex in 1998.

Market sources claimed that Bucknall was likely to put some cash into the venture if the buyout went ahead.

Citex Project Services was the final third of the Citex Group to be disposed of – deals for the other two thirds were struck last summer. The firm's facilities management division was sold to Carillion for £11.5m and its Asian division sold to EC Harris. Both deals were concluded in August.

The deal left Citex Project Services as a private firm owned by shareholder including Phoenix Equity Partners and Legal & General Ventures.

Sources claimed that Citex Project Services had liabilities that included a large property estate.