Senior management at Laing's construction arm are bracing themselves to leave the business if it is bought by O'Rourke.
Sources close to the management claim that senior staff are already looking at other job opportunities in anticipation of the completion of the deal with the concrete specialist next month.

One said: "There are an awful lot of people pushing names around agencies at the moment. There is a groundswell of bad feeling in the firm which will build up in the next month.

"The staff feels that it may have been a good move for the Laing board, but it may not be so good for the workforce." The source said staff in divisions outside Laing's core building operations, such as civil engineering, were particularly concerned about their futures.

The source said: "People outside of building will feel a real culture shock working with O'Rourke, as they have not worked with them before." Other sources claim that staff are playing a waiting game until O'Rourke sets out firm plans for the future of Laing.

There is a groundswell of bad feeling in the firm which will build up in the next month

Laing management source

The move came as O'Rourke chairman, Ray O'Rourke, met with a Laing representative staff body to set out his plans for the company.

O'Rourke confirmed that Laing would be run separately from his company, and was reported to have said he wants to grow Laing.

One source described the meeting as "positive". He said: "The representatives were impressed with his opinions and his commitment to the future of the business." Laing shocked the industry this month by announcing that O'Rourke was the preferred bidder for its construction arm.