OUTSIDER O'ROURKE has pulled off one of the construction industry's most unexpected coups in recent years after being named preferred bidder for the purchase of Laing Construction.
The £200M turnover Essexbased group with a staff of 2,500 snatched the deal from Bouygues, the £10bn French multinational contracting behemoth with 111,000 staff.
The prize of one of Britain's best known construction names is now within O'Rourke's grasp, with exclusive negotiations on the terms of sale expected to conclude by the end of May. A statement by O'Rourke said that, if the deal goes through, both firms would continue to trade as separate businesses.
The addition of Laing Construction's £850M turnover and 1600 staff would catapult the firm, led by Irish structural engineer Ray O'Rourke, into the major contracting league.
Sources close to the bidding said that O'Rourke's intense desire to win had wooed the Laing board.
'O'Rourke's management made such a play for the firm because of what it gives to them, ' said a bid source. 'The Laing board preferred the sense of familiarity with O'Rourke because they are UK-based and well known to them on contracts.