Amec finance director Simon Batey said the sale was part of the group’s strategy to focus capital resources on its core activities.
“We will redeploy the capital from this sale in property investment and private finance initiative opportunities, which provide work for our capital projects businesses and works contracts for our services businesses,” he said.
“There will be capital available to us to draw down when opportunities arise. It will not burn a hole in our pockets,” he added.
Fairclough’s operating profit in the year to 31 December 1998 was £15.4m, down £1m on the previous year.
Amec has retained non-voting shares in Fairclough that entitle it to dividends in Fairclough’s profit until 31 March 2001. Batey said these measures mean that shareholders will see no decrease in their income stream.
The value of these dividends will be based on a formula that allows Amec to receive all Fairclough’s operating profit for the two years up to pre-arranged levels. Amounts over such levels will be shared between Amec and Centex.
During the period to 31 March 2001, Amec will be able to have two non-executive directors on the Fairclough board. These will initially be Amec chief executive Peter Mason and Batey. Richard Fraser will continue as chief executive of Fairclough.
Centex is one of the largest housebuilders and general building contractors in the USA. The group also has an investment real estate operation and owns a majority interest in a publicly held construction products company.
A spokesperson for Centex said Fairclough would retain its name and that the impact on staff would be minimal. “It will be a seamless transition from a parent to a holding company,” he said.
Fairclough operates in the North-west, Midlands and the South-east. In 1998, it sold 1717 units with an average selling price of £112 800.