Consultant High-Point Rendel is in talks with a bank to take the company off the stock market and away from the threat of a hostile takeover.
High-Point Rendel said in a statement to shareholders last week that it had received an indicative offer from a "third-party financial institution which would back executive management to continue to run the business".

The group added that the price offered represented a premium on High-Point Rendel's share price of 20p. Sources have predicted the offer would be about 25p per share, although it is understood that the group was looking for offers at about 90p per share in the summer. The share price peaked at 60p in April.

The company emphasised that no firm offer had been received and the deal was still subject to conditions, including due diligence.

The group first announced in July that it was in talks about its future.

There has been industry speculation about High-Point Rendel's future after disappointing results led to rumours that it might be vulnerable to a takeover.

In its last full-year results, to 31 July 2001, High-Point Rendel posted a £1m loss. This year, it has closed its US office as well as its executive recruitment business, and in July it warned of difficult trading conditions.

In August, founder Ian Reeves and Pat Desmond resigned as non-executive directors. Reeves founded the group in 1970 and had been chief executive until Hingley replaced him in 2000. Executive director Bob Stubbs resigned in June.

High-Point Rendell was involved in unsuccessful merger talks with MDA in 2000.