One of the UK’s largest privately owned contractors, Fitzpatrick, is sizing up a number of acquisitions in the South-east worth up to £5m.

The move could see Fitzpatrick take a large stake in another company rather than buy a whole firm.

Managing director Jim Elders would not disclose his targets, but said the company could benefit by providing total ground engineering and building solutions to clients on brownfield sites, such as former gas and power stations.

Fitzpatrick, which employs 300 staff, is also set to expand its traditional South-east presence northwards and into the South-west. It is setting up a South-west division and plans to open an office for the Peterborough and Cambridge markets.

Elders said 20 senior managers had been trained to take on new roles, including management of Fitzpatrick’s new offices.

The contractor, which increased its turnover from £63.7m to £100m in 1998, expects to record a turnover of £150m for the year ending 31 December 1999.