Infrastructure investment group Innisfree this week emerged as the latest potential suitor, although Laing has also been tipped and Carillion has expressed interest. Amey hopes to raise £150m by selling its 11 PFI interests, even though the City consensus is that they are only worth half of that.
City sources say Amey is more inclined to sell to an investor such as Innisfree rather than a rival contractor – even if it means taking a lower price. This is because Amey, while wanting to get its cash out of its PFI stakes, also has one eye on the future.
The reason is that if the a firm like Innisfree buys the stakes, it will need Amey to handle the lucrative facilities management side of the contract. But if a firm such as Carillion, which has its own FM capability, was successful, Amey would be out on its ear.
"Innisfree may be interested, but the stakes will be more valuable to a trade buyer who can do the FM itself. Of course, Amey doesn't want that," said one stock watcher.
Amey's share price dropped 10% last week as investors' concerns about the business deepened despite its sale.