Kevin Hyde, chief executive of Jarvis, quit the troubled company on Tuesday.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Hyde, 59, said that it was the appropriate time for him to step down, having instigated “urgent actions necessary for recovery”.

The news comes seven months after speculation first started that Hyde, chief executive since May 2003, was set to quit. At the time, Jarvis denied the rumours (see Building, 21 May, page 12).

Chairman Steven Norris said that Hyde had “guided us through an intense period of activity to set the scene for recovery.” He added that the company was now “actively engaged” in recruiting a successor. However, some in the market believe that it will be difficult to attract candidates for the job after a series of problems, including the Potters Bar rail crash in May 2002, has blighted the company’s fortunes.

It is understood that Andrew Lezala, head of Jarvis’ rail division, is the strongest internal candidate.

Over the past 12 months, Jarvis’ share price has plummeted 91%. On Monday after the announcement it closed 11% down at just 33.5p.

Jarvis has stated its intention to restructure the business, focusing on road and rail infrastructure. Offers for the Accommodation Services division were submitted last Friday and a preferred bidder is expected to be chosen in two weeks.

Interested parties are thought to include Wates, Skanska and Hochtief.

  • Wates is understood to be ready to take over a £65m PFI schools job from Jarvis. Jarvis was originally selected to deliver four special needs schools for Kirklees council, West Yorkshire, in March, with Wates as the reserve bidder.
  • The PPP consortium responsible for the troubled East Lothian schools project is to have its late completion penalties, which are due to East Lothian council, waived until 2005.

Innovate East Lothian was supposed to complete the programme by August this year, but has been delayed for up to a year after Innovate’s main contractor Ballast folded in 2003.

The consortium had to pay up to £1m for every month’s delay. The council has agreed to delay the start of payments until August next year.