City high-flyer to tell Major Contractors Group why investors are taking their money out of construction.
Construction executives have asked a top City analyst to tell them why the industry is out of favour with investors.

John Messenger, building analyst with Deutsche Bank, has been asked to speak at next Monday's quarterly meeting of the Construction Confederation's Major Contractors Group.

The title of the discussion will be: How and why the City views construction as it does.

The development comes at a crunch time as chief executives fear that their low share values could make them vulnerable to hostile takeover bids. The construction share index has fallen 23% in the past six months.

The decline in the value of shares in the construction industry is partly a result of investors' rush to buy Internet stocks, a trend that has hit other sectors of the "old economy".

The City is also suspicious of claims about profitability made in construction firms' annual reports. It is understood that Messenger will discuss this issue in his speech.

The shift away from traditional lump-sum contracting to negotiated work by contractors has done little so far to convince investors that the industry is bankable.

Two weeks ago, Building revealed that construction minister Nick Raynsford intends to try to persuade the City to take a more objective view of the construction sector.

The charm offensive, which is being carried out under the aegis of the Movement for Innovation, is expected to begin in May.

The MCG meeting is a separate development, but is further evidence of the crisis facing the sector.

Bill Tallis, director of the MCG, refused to comment. Messenger was unavailable for comment.

Speaking generally, Oliver Whitehead, chief executive of Alfred McAlpine, said that it was up to the industry to change its spots if it wanted to win over the City.

"The attention span of analysts is very short because they have to follow so many companies, many of them larger European ones."

Whitehead added that consolidation was the best way for the industry to win investors' hearts. "Every year in the spring we have a long conversations about consolidation in the industry. But the people I speak to believe there is now more pressure than ever to strike deals."