Round-up of all the weekend’s big construction stories including speculation over Amec’s future and the latest on Jarvis.
Amec bid threat
Speculation over the future of Amec intensified over the weekend as rumours that US construction group Fluor, its joint venture partner in Iraq, was seeking to bid for the UK firm at up to 435p per share.
On Saturday the Daily Telegraph reported that Amec share prices had hit a two-year high, rising 25p to 342p on Friday. More than 14 million shares in the company were traded before the market closed.
The Mail on Sunday followed the story the next day, citing Martin Hughes’ investment vehicle Toscafield, Amec’s biggest shareholder with a 9.6% in the company as a key player in any eventual bid. The Mail also named British company Serco as a possible buyer.
Neither Amec or Fluor would comment on the bid rumours, while some City traders dismissed the spike in Amec’s share price as a result of trading in hedge funds.
Halliburton under scrutinty
The Independent on Sunday reported on the latest developments in a corruption investigation in France into Halliburton, where the US construction group is alleged to have paid £73 million in “unjustified fees” to contacts in Nigeria. The IoS said that the payments, many of which were made while the company was being run by the now-vice president Dick Cheney, helped a consortium which included the US group win a $12 billion contract to build a gas terminal in Bonny Island in Nigeria. The payments were made to Jeffrey Tesler, a British lawyer based in north London. His French solicitor admits that Tesler received the money, but that it was for legitimate advisory fees.
There was no let up for Jarvis over the weekend as The Observer reported it had seen reports that the company was in serious financial difficulty seven months before it announced any profit warnings. The documents, dated June 2003 revealed that Jarvis stood to lose £6.15 m on the £14 m Kirklees schools public-private contract. In a separate story the paper suggested that K Capital Partners, Jarvis’ biggest shareholder, is determined to oust chairman Steven Norris by the end of the year.
John Prescott continues to bang the government’s sustainability drum this weekend. He was reported in The Observer to be re-emphasising the commitment to solar power in the draft building regulations that come into force in 15 months, demanding that all new homes built in Britain be designed to accommodate solar panels.
Mutliplex eye up Chelsfield
Following developer Westfield’s offer for the property company Chelsfield on Thursday, the Independent on Sunday reported that another Australian firm, constructor Multiplex is preparing to make a counter-bid for the UK shopping centre developers. The IoS pointed out that as Multiplex already owns 7% of Duelguide, the private company that owns Chelsfield, it would only have to match Westfield’s offer to win a bidding war between the two.