Demolition specialist on verge of move into reinforced concrete market

Demolition specialist Keltbray is on the verge of a major deal to buy the bulk of stricken concrete contractor Dunne Group in a deal set to save hundreds of jobs.

Keltbray has been in talks with Dunne Group’s administrator FRP Advisory since the firm collapsed into administration last month with the loss of 524 jobs.

A source close to the sale process told Building Keltbray was expected to conclude its purchase this week, with executives from the firm set to fly up to Scotland today to meet administrators and finalise terms. They said hundreds of laid-off Dunne workers were likely to be re-employed should the deal go through.

The planned deal would include all Dunne’s plant and equipment, effectively comprising “everything apart from existing contracts”, according to the source. FRP has already off-loaded some of Dunne’s major contracts, including roles on London’s One Blackfriars and 100 Bishopsgate to Byrne Group.

Keltbray’s purchase would take it into the reinforced concrete market for the first time, building from its core demolition business and more recent forays into piling and rail services. One client told Building the planned deal would be a “good fit”, adding: “I think clients will welcome this if Keltbray does it and it enables them to start building concrete basements - it would be a good addition to their services.”

Around 60 firms expressed an interest in buying parts of the Dunne Group business. However, Keltbray was thought to be the most serious suitor, with the rest understood to be interested in only piecemeal parts.

One of those is contractor Mace who has engaged directly “elements” of Dunne Group’s workforce and purchased materials and hire plant equipment via the administrators that were already on site at its residential project, Highpoint, in Elephant & Castle.

A spokesperson for Mace said: “An element of downtime was experienced to site operations however all cranes were working and material deliveries recommenced quickly”.

Mace is also negotiating with concrete specialist Getjar for the completion of the concrete frame at the scheme.

News of the impending Keltbray deal came as Dunne Group’s notice to appoint administrator FRP, which became available at Companies House on Monday, revealed the firm’s bank Santander appointed FRP on Dunne’s behalf.

The Companies House document reveals a loan granted by Santander to Dunne in October 2014 gave the bank security in the form of a floating charge “over the whole of [Dunne Group’s] undertaking and assets”, giving it security if Dunne Group became insolvent.

Dunne requested Santander appoint administrators on its behalf after a request to the bank for additional funding was not met. Keltbray and FRP both declined to comment.