Deal between Mace and mystery buyer broke down before capital gains tax deadline

A deal to sell Mace, the £531m turnover consultant and construction group, was scrapped after a price couldn’t be agreed before the Capital Gains Tax deadline in April, it has emerged.

According to industry sources, the plug was pulled on the deal close to the cut-off date of 6 April due to the impact of the credit crunch on Mace’s valuation, but it is understood the company is still on the market at the right price.

Mace chief executive
Mace chief executive

The identity of the failed bidder is not known at this stage but sources say the company, which is building the £350m Shard of Glass project in London, had looked at options including a trade sale and the involvement of private equity. The price tag is believed to have been in the region of £100m.

One source said: “It is a very attractive business that has lots of operations around the world and would be a great deal for someone at the right price.”

The abolition of taper relief on CGT means partnerships and individuals now pay a flat rate of 18% on gains when they sell up, compared with a maximum of 10% before the deadline.

There was a flurry of corporate activity in the run-up to 6 April, including the £100m sale of social housing contractor Bullock to Lloyds TSB Development Capital, and the £41m purchase of Richardson Projects by Rok.

According to documents filed at Companies House, Mace has 24 directors, including chief executive Stephen Pycroft and finance director David Vaughan, all of whom could have cashed in as part of any deal before 6 April.

In the year ended 31 December 2007, Mace boosted turnover by 43%, from £372m to £531m.

Pre-tax profit grew 46%, from £7.4m to £10.8m.

Mace declined to comment.

Mace's Global reach

Staff 2,700
Countries covered 28
Projects British Museum – £100m, construction manager; Venetian Macau casino – £1.4bn, construction manager; Jumeirah Beach Residences, Dubai – £900m, project manager