Spanish construction giant FCC is set to follow Ferrovial into the UK market with a bid for a £200m PFI hospital scheme in Plymouth.
FCC is Europe's 12th largest contractor by turnover, but its UK activities have been largely restricted to waste management and similar small-scale services work.
However, following a decision last year to double its sales within three years by venturing outside of Spain, FCC has been in talks since before Christmas with British quantity surveyor Cyril Sweett about bidding together for a planned care centre near Plymouth's Derriford Hospital.
Syd Jamieson, project manager on the scheme, said: "We have got four potential bidders that are interested.
I have been in negotiations with FCC for quite a while through Cyril Sweett."
The other potential bidders are understood to be Bouygues, Amec and Amey. Cost consultant Davis Langdon is also looking to join a contractor in a bid, but senior partner Rob Smith said it had yet to agree a deal.
We have got four potential bidders. I have been in negotiations with FCC for quite a while through Cyril Sweett
Syd Jamieson, project manager
One industry source said it was unlikely all four would bid, because of the scheme's awkward South-west location and troubled history. The source said: "It has been a real struggle to get anyone interested in this."
An Amey bid would be all the more surprising as it previously bid for the scheme but the process collapsed when it was left as the only contractor in the running - under PFI competition rules there have to be at least two bidders.
The scheme has since been split into two more financially manageable packages to make the project more attractive to contractors.