AMEC, stuck between being a contractor and a wannabe global player, finally decided to concentrate on its energy business as chief executive Sir Peter Mason (left) set about the break-up of the group.
Officially the firm is considering the possibility of splitting the business into two bits: energy and the remaining rump, which will house construction, investments and developments. Over the past few years Amec has increasingly styled itself as a blue-chip engineer but no matter how hard it tries ? and it does try ever so hard ? the firm is always saddled with, frankly, a distinctly un-blue chip performance every time its annual results come around.
The firm's bigwigs do their best to explain away the mess but exceptional items and goodwill write-offs of nearly £200 million over the past five years against an accumulated £380 million pretax profit tell their own story. Now, following an announcement last month, its star business, Spie, will be sold off and is expected to swell the firm's coffers to the tune of up to £600 million. The money will be ploughed back into the energy arm and shareholders.