FRENCH CONTRACTOR Bouygues and London based O'Rourke this week led the race to take over Laing's troubled contracting business.
Sources close to Laing said that Australian contractor Multiplex is trailing, having bid primarily for Laing's stadium building expertise to use on the new Wembley Stadium contract.
The sale of Laing's contracting business is due to be wrapped up before its delayed annual results on 26 April. With Bouygues early favourites, the gap is believed to be narrowing.
'[O'Rourke chairman] Ray O'Rourke has come as a total surprise and Laing never investigated the possibility of a tie up before, ' said a source. 'But he has seriously impressed with his approach. While for Bouygues, bidding is merely industrial logic, for O'Rourke it's total passion. He really wants this.
'Passion is sometimes why 10 men beat 11 on a football field, ' the source added.
Laing staff are understood to favour a takeover by the French major which they view as a better fit than O'Rourke.
Some are fearful of a takeover by a firm they see as a tough subcontractor. But bid sources told NCE that O'Rourke has 'satisified Laing board management over staff concerns.'