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Amec could quit civil engineering in six months

News Business

CONTRACTOR AMEC is ready to pull out of civil engineering within the next six months if an attractive bid is made for its loss making construction division, outgoing chief executive Sir Peter Mason said last week.

Speaking after Amec's interim results briefing, Mason said that if approached by a buyer, Amec would sell its construction division, 'if it was in the interests of our shareholders'.

He blamed poor management for the Amec Construction division's £20.1M loss recorded in the rst six months of this year.

The division includes Amec's civil engineering and building activities. These losses come on top of a £12.5M hit in 2005.

'Like all businesses that don't go well, bad performance is either down to markets or management. In this case we can't blame the market, ' said Mason.

'[Construction] has not been well managed for the last three years.' Mason, ho steps down this month after a decade in charge, said that in a company employing 40,000 people, it was 'quite dif cult to see down beyond the top two levels of management'.

But he said that the rot within Amec Construction was caused by 'one man and his team' and assured that a major management reshuffle has taken place to shore up the business. He declined to name the individual.

'The guy supervising that team didn't have a lot of knowledge of the construction industry.' As a result it was bidding too low, taking on xed price, lump sum jobs, and doing projects of the 'wrong' type, like multi storey car parks and residential blocks for speculative developers, Mason said.

In future, Amec will not bid for lump sum, fixed price jobs, focusing instead on private ance initiative work. This will, include schools and hospitals, but not road PFIs.

'My aim is to separate out the UK built environment business.

Amec hasn't yet made a decision on whether to sell it off.' But he said the rm was open to offers.

Amec Construction's revenue for the rst six months of 2006 was £577.6M, compared to £540.3M last year. Revenue for the group as a whole was £1.675bn, up from £1.379bn last year. Pretax profit was £24.2M, up from £20M last year.

Amec has a policy of not bidding for Olympic projects, Mason said. But this could change when he hands control of the group to his successor Samir Brikho, former chief executive of power, oil and gas company ABB Lummus Global.

After stepping down, Mason will take up a non-executive position on the Olympic Delivery Authority board.

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