Robert Osborne dismisses rumours that he could return as chief executive of beleaguered services firm.
Former Amey director Robert Osborne this week dismissed speculation that he was in the running to take over from chief executive Brian Staples.

Osborne, who left the group in July, had been tipped to return, but denied that he was considering this.

“I have not had any involvement in any way in the ongoing situation at Amey,” he said. “I am sad to see the trouble the company is going through. I still have goodwill towards the company and the people there.”

He said he was concentrating on his role as chairman of the Business Services Association, although is looking for positions elsewhere.

A source close to Amey also ruled out an Osborne return. The source said he did not have any experience of running a large company and no track record in the City.

Speculation linking Osborne with Amey increased after the group’s largest investor, Meditor Capital Investment, called for Amey to be broken up and sold.

There have also been repeated calls for Staples, who has lost the confidence of major shareholders, to resign. Amey was unavailable for comment.

The company’s share price has fallen from 430p to 30p this year amid accounting concerns and senior management departures.

Staples has so far refused to step down but Meditor, which owns nearly 15% of Amey, is continuing to push for the break-up. Meditor head Talal Shakerchi met Amey chairman Ian Robinson last week.

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, Amey’s third largest shareholder, with a 6% stake, said it would support calls for changes but insisted the management should be allowed to complete the sale of its PFI stakes and sign the London Underground public–private partnership before tackling other issues. These could include the break up or a change in management.

If Scottish Widows gets its way Staples could remain in charge until at least Christmas.

Amey, which hopes to raise up to £125m from PFI stakes, is in talks with potential bidders. Laing is still favourite to buy the stakes but is also reported to be considering selling some of its own holdings.

Mysterious Meditor

Meditor Capital Management, which has a 15% stake in Amey, is a secretive investment fund that likes to keep its dealings quiet. Despite this, it is gaining a reputation for taking stakes, normally no more than 3%, in struggling companies and then supporting pushes for a sale or break-up. This week it also increased its holdings in MyTravel. Meditor refuses to say who its funders are or in which other companies it has holdings.