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Miller sells civils arm to Morgan Sindall

HOUSING, FIT out and building specialist Morgan Sindall plans to invest in privately financed infrastructure after agreeing last week to buy Miller Group's contracting arm.

'In terms of past expansion plans we have been starved of investment, ' said Miller Civil Engineering Services (CES) managing director Graham Grundon.

'This move should give us the chance to be a bigger player in the markets we are good at - water, transport and tunnelling.'

The purchase for £20M from Miller Group gives the £655M turnover Morgan Sindall Group a heavy construction operation.

It also sees Miller quitting contracting to focus on housing and property development.

Morgan Sindall's decision to buy is unusual at a time when contractors and developers like Laing and Taylor Woodrow are pulling back from low margin contracting.

Miller CES turned over £135M in 2000 with pre-tax profits of £3.75M. The order book is £430M and the division employs 650 people.

Others have their strategies but this is right for us, ' said John Morgan, Morgan Sindall chairman. 'It is an area we have wanted to be in for some time.

'Miller CES has its own strengths. Partnering especially makes the future interesting.'

'I think Miller saw itself more as a developer than in construction, ' said Grundon. 'Morgan Sindall is prepared to help us maximise our construction growth potential.'

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