Top 20 quantity surveyor McBains Cooper is understood to be in talks over a possible merger with a mystery partner.

A McBains spokeswoman confirmed that a deal was in the offing but added that the company was keeping the lid on the details for the moment.

"It's early days yet," the spokeswoman said. "It will be about two or three months before we have something to talk about." Building understands that the QS is in talks with an engineering consultant to create a multidisciplinary practice that would provide a one-stop shop for clients.

The company was formed out of the merger of McBains and Henry Cooper in 1993.

The partnership split in 1995, and the resulting row ended up in the High Court in 1996.

Former partners David Hudson and Barrie Simpson successfully sued the remaining McBains Cooper partners over their financial settlement.