Main contender for takeover rejects wholesale purchase as Leadbitter picks up £80m college contract

McLaren Construction looks set to select only three contracts from the books of collapsed contractor Verry Construction, despite speculation it was looking to take over the whole firm.

According to sources familiar with the process, the Essex-based company has narrowed its focus to a trio of jobs from Verry’s portfolio of about 10 after examining the company’s books.

These are the £67.7m City of Westminster college in London, the £13m humanities centre for Queen Mary and Westfield College in London and the Kent Building Schools for the Future (BSF) contract, which has so far included two jobs worth £25m.

It is understood that another of Verry’s schemes, the £80m Oaklands College in St Albans, is to be taken over by Oxford-based Leadbitter.

One source said: “Those are the three plum jobs as far as McLaren is concerned, although the situation is fluid and nothing has been signed yet.”

Another person close to the situation added: “McLaren has whittled it down to these three and they are the only jobs it is actively looking at.”

McLaren declined to comment.

If the company’s bid for Westminster college is successful it would become the largest job McLaren has undertaken since it was founded six years ago.

According to another source, McLaren already has a skeleton team of three on site at the college in anticipation of taking over. Confirmation of the job could come early next week.

The remaining Verry contracts could be bundled together and sold by administrator BDO Stoy Hayward, which is understood to be the preferred route. Its other deals include the Hackney BSF contract, the £11.5m Futures College in Southend and a £10.4m residential scheme in Aylesbury.

Leadbitter declined to comment on the speculation it would take over the Oaklands job.