Speculation has continued to mount over the future of consultant engineer Mouchel, which this week revealed it is the target of a hostile takeover bid following recent falls in its share price

Mouchel declined to reveal the names of the firms that made offers, but said it did not believe the approaches represented the true value of the business. Shares in the firm have risen by 45% since the announcement, but its value still languishes at a third of its price a year ago.

Mouchel boss Richard Cuthbert

Mouchel boss Richard Cuthbert

The moves follow its admission last week that it had engaged Deloitte to conduct a review of the business, and comes amid its ongoing attempts to secure a refinancing deal from its lenders.

In a statement to the city on Monday the consultant said: “The significant fall in the group’s share price in the last few weeks has resulted in approaches.”

It said that net bank borrowings were £109m at the end of November and that refinancing talks with lenders will be completed as expected by March next year.

However, market sources said there were still fears in the market the firm will not survive the recession. One source said that the approaches could simply be a tactic to have an advance look at Mouchel’s books in order to have a head start if an administrator decided to sell off the business. “It may just be an advance fishing strategy,” he said.

Andy Brown, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, said businesses looking to buy Mouchel could include Costain, Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Mitie and Serco. Capita has also been linked with the bid.

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