Social housing contractor is first to step up as Mears withdraws

Social housing contractor Morrison has tabled a bid for failed contractor Rok, according to industry sources.

Meanwhile Building understands rival contractor Mears has withdrawn its bid, as all of the remaining interested parties rush to table offers by the end of the day today.

A source said £300m turnover Morrison, which provides repairs and maintenance services for 300,000 homes and 500 schools, had been the first of the remaining firms interested in the deal to file its bid for Rok, which collapsed into administration on Monday.

It is thought that Morrison’s bid, which is yet to be confirmed by the company, relates to the bulk of the remaining business, rather than just the social housing contracts. However, it is not clear if the new build construction business will also be included in any sale.

An industry source said: “Morrison has been the first to lodge a bid – they’re looking at getting the whole lot, everything’s up for sale. Mears and [facilities management contractor] Enterprise have said they’re not interested now.”

The source added that the business up for sale was much smaller than the £714m turnover business reported in the most recent annual accounts, explaining why a large amount of initial interest from rivals had evaporated. He said: “It seems that in the last nine months clients have just deserted Rok wholesale. There’s not a huge amount [for bidder’s] to pick up and take.”

A separate source confirmed Mears’ decision to step away from the table, describing Rok’s remaining contracts as “piecemeal.”

Rok’s administrators have made almost 1,000 staff redundant since the firm was put into administration on Monday, and have been attempting to find a buyer for the whole business, receiving more than 100 offers initially.

Others still in the frame are thought to include Mitie and Kinetics.

The news comes as PwC confirmed that negotiations regarding the sale of Rok divisions are likely to continue over the weekend.

Rob Hunt, partner and joint administrator at PwC said he would have further updates early next week. He said: “The last 48 hours has seen several parties undertaking due diligence on all three divisions. We cannot identify those parties at this stage, but many are well known names in the industry. The parties are continuing the diligence process with us on the Rok sites before, hopefully, formulating their proposals during the remainder of today.

“We are encouraged by the progress made; dialogue is expected to continue over the weekend and we remain hopeful that we will be able to secure a sale of some of the remaining businesses. We are working closely with employees, suppliers and customers and should continue to update them.

A spokesperson for Morrison said the firm was currently unable to comment.