Dutch parent group to distribute sales literature for contractor next month after year-long restructuring
A management buyout team is set to bid against four firms to take control of the UK arm of Dutch contractor Ballast Nedam.

A City source said Ballast's UK management is keen to go ahead with a takeover bid.

The parent company has moved the sale process into a higher gear after a year-long restructuring of the contractor. The company has also appointed accountant PriceWaterhouseCoopers to reopen bidding for the subsidiary.

The accountant is preparing a file of confidential information on Ballast to send to potential bidders. It plans to distribute it in the next two weeks.

A spokesperson for the Dutch parent firm said: "The sale is very much in full swing. It is up and running again after the restructuring earlier this year. What we have done is broaden the number of potential bidders. We expect some reaction in a couple of weeks."

The spokesperson said that an MBO was not its preferred option. He said: "What we are concerned with is to ensure that the new parent is a good strategic fit."

Montpellier, the parent company of contractor YJL, has confirmed it is bidding. German construction company Bilfinger Berger is also understood to be in the frame.

The Ballast Nedam spokesperson said the group was trying to sell all its UK operations to a single buyer, but refused to rule out the possibility it would be broken up.

Ballast Nedam posted a £103m loss for last year, blaming its poor performance on the restructuring of its international units. The UK shake-up involved closing loss-making stadium and property development businesses, cutting 400 jobs and replacing four of the firm's five regional construction directors.

A City analyst said German construction company Hochtief, which owns 48% of Ballast Nedam, wanted to sell the UK arm as part of a conservative retrenchment. He said: "Hochtief expanded quite aggressively in the last few years – for example, by buying American contractor Turner in 1999."

A separate bid by venture capitalist group Egeria for the Dutch operation of Ballast Nedam, which accounted for half the group's turnover last year, collapsed last month.

  • HBG chief executive Brian May this week denied speculation that the British arm intends to separate from its Dutch parent BAM. May said: "There is absolutely no truth in this speculation whatsoever."