BABTIE WAS last month poised to scrap its five-year growth plan after receiving a takeover bid from US engineering giant Jacobs, understood to be worth £70M.
It is thought Jacobs has targeted the consultant because of its strong presence in the UK transport and nuclear decommissioning sectors.
Less than four months ago Babtie announced plans to double its turnover over the next five years, funded through a combination of borrowings and reserves.
Babtie refused to explain its decision to negotiate with Jacobs. Jacobs refused to comment on the bid beyond a brief statement to the New York Stock Exchange.
The Glasgow-based consultant has always maintained its independence and resisted the temptation to raise finance through a stock market flotation.
Acquiring Babtie could increase Jacobs' annual UK fee income from £482M to £660M, according to figures in New Civil Engineer's 2004 Consultants File. Top-ranked consultant Atkins' fees were only £30M higher last year at £691.5M.