to clients. Mansell, WS Atkins and Drake & Scull are in the process of setting up a so-called “virtual company”, to be called Prop.com.
The business will offer everything from office design to construction and facilities management. Another two companies, as yet unnamed, are expected to join the venture later.
A Mansell manager is likely to head the operation from a an office in London. The firms decided to set up Prop.com after joining up to bid for BT’s Project Jaguar, the £160m deal to take on the facilities management of BT’s property portfolio. The consortium did not make it on to the shortlist.
Although the finer details of the operation have yet to be thrashed out, Mansell chief executive David Beardsmore described Prop.com as a “whole new way of working”. He added: “We’re not talking takeovers; we’re talking alliances. It’s taking forward the Egan initiative by bringing companies together to make efficiency gains.”
One key aspect of Prop.com is that it will “totally IT driven”, said Beardsmore. The different arms of the company are to be linked by computer, and will communicate only by e-mail – although it will not necessarily trade over the Internet.
Beardsmore said Prop.com would be launched within the next few weeks. “We are starting to look for customers. We are looking for organisations that want to look after their property in every respect.”
Beardsmore said forming strategic alliances was the way ahead for his privately owned £213m turnover company, rather than a listing on the stock exchange.
He said: “Flotation is mission impossible at the moment. Forming strategic alliances is the way forward, given the lack of sentiment towards construction [in the City]. Arguably, a venture like Prop.com will make the company more appealing in due course.”
Mansell’s takeover of listed social housing specialist YJ Lovell fell apart in December 1998. Lovell sold its social housing arm to Morgan Sindall last year. But Beardsmore said Mansell now plans to step up its social housing work by setting up a specialist division.