Rival companies take over Tarmac and Rugby Group, forcing their chief executives to find work elsewhere.
The bosses of two of Britain’s biggest construction companies were forced out this week following takeovers by rival companies.

Tarmac chief executive Roy Harrison said he would quit once the £1.2bn takeover by South African mining company Anglo-American was completed.

The takeover of £622m turnover Tarmac, which demerged from contractor Carillion earlier this year, is expected to happen in the first quarter of 2000.

And Rugby Group chief executive Peter Johnson turned down a place on the board of Ready Mixed Concrete, after agreeing to an £896m takeover by the group. He also indicated that he would leave the company. RMC has an annual turnover of £4.4bn; Rugby Group’s turnover is £1bn.

Since joining Rugby from materials group Redland in 1996, Johnson has concentrated on disposing of many of the group’s non-core assets, including its joinery division, which was sold earlier this year. But analysts say the company’s share price has consistently underperformed, making it vulnerable to takeover.

Johnson, who is 52, said he still wanted the chance to run a company. “RMC had offered me a position on the board but they knew it was one I would not be able to accept,” he said.

Harrison, who has been with Tarmac since 1971, was described by one analyst as “extremely shaken” by the takeover. He will stay on at Tarmac until early next year.

Anglo-American is likely to combine Tarmac with Tilcon, its other UK aggregates business. The two have a combined turnover of £1.6bn and Anglo-American expects to make cost savings of £25m through combining administration and management functions.

It would not quantify the job losses.

Some redundancies were also expected at Rugby Group after RMC said it expected savings of £20m by the second half of 2001. However, Johnson’s recent restructuring has already considerably slimmed down operations, and RMC said fewer than 100 jobs would go.

The Tarmac and Rugby brands are both expected to be retained by their new owners.