Sale is part of refinancing that could lead to other firms bidding for consultant

Reports suggest that Mouchel could be close to selling its operations in the Middle East as it tries to fend off a third bid from Costain.

According to a report in The Times this morning, Mouchel could also announce the terms of its refinancing as early as this week.

If it successfully refinances its debt, this could lead to another firm entering the bidding process, as Mouchel disclosed last week it has had a number of advances - none of which have resulted in an offer. Other firms thought to be in the frame for a counter offer include Balfour Beatty and Capita.

Costain increased its bid for Mouchel for a second time last week, to 153p per share, valuing the firm at £170m. It has previously made an offer of 105p when Mouchel shares were trading at just 56p in early December. Its second offer of 135p was immediately rejected.

According to the report, Mouchel has committed to selling off sections of the business as part of its refinancing. This could include the Middle East operations, where one potential buyer has apparently stepped forward.

WSP could be in the frame, after being linked with a move last year.