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Surge of takeovers expected next month

City analysts predict a surge in civil engineering firms rushing to finish the sale of their businesses before the Capital Gains Tax reform comes into effect in April.

With less than two months to go, there are already signs that owners are hastily processing deals to maximise profits and avoid the new 18% rate.

"Short term we have already seen some shareholders who have full business taper relief [paying minimum capital gains tax] rushing to sell assets prior to 6 April so that they can cash in at 10% tax. I am extremely busy with clients at the moment," said PricewaterhouseCoopers tax director, Richard Farnsworth.

Scott Wilson's group chairman, Geoff French, agreed.

"We have seen a lot of companies coming to market recently. There was clearly the chance that this would happen," he said.

"I think everybody wonders if Darling fully understood the effects of the change he was attempting to make."

Commenting on the 10% concessionary rate introduced for gains made under £1M, Farnsworth said: "The entrepreneurs' tax relief looks like it will be very narrowly targeted, so it's a fairly limited relief."

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