City sources expect the move to lead to a full bid for the company by STG Holdings chairman Stefan Allesch-Taylor.
Allesch Taylor paid £750 000 to former MDA directors for his initial holding of 25%, but increased this to 27.4% this week. He has indicated that he wishes to up his stake to 29.9%, which, under stock exchange rules, is the maximum shareholding allowed before a full offer for the company is triggered.
Allesch Taylor is only in his 20s, and has made his name by putting development sites together and selling them on. He says he wants a steady cash flow from MDA’s fees to help his plans MDA employs 400 people in 22 countries around the world. It made a pre-tax loss of £180 000 in the six months to 31 December 1998, down on a profit of £135 000 for the previous half-year. Turnover was also down from £9.2m to £8.7m.
The company blamed the losses on the closure of its Greek office, redundancy and restructuring costs and the weak UK market in the second half of 1998.
It also cited the Asian economic crisis as a factor, as Far Eastern clients cut construction spending. As a result, its Hong Kong operations recorded an operating loss of £33 000.
The group said the first quarter of 1999 had shown some market improvement.
MDA chief executive Richard Houghton was unavailable for comment.