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Company spotlight: Jarvis

FINANCE

LONDONERS vote in a week for their mayor and some polls suggest the Tories could unseat incumbent Ken Livingstone.

The chance of ebullient Tory candidate Steve Norris winning will not be hurt by Jarvis, the firm he chairs, delaying its results until next month.

The postponement is to allow a strategic review of the ailing business to be completed but the added bonus for Mr Norris is that any more bad news from the Jarvis stable will be delayed until after the vote.

As many critics have suggested that chairing a company that maintains part of London Underground while being mayor would be a serious conflict of interest, Mr Norris may have to leave Jarvis if he wins.

What effect would this have on a company that has already lost one chairman in the last year in Paris Moayedi, the driving force behind the firm?

Apart from suing engineering giant Alstom for £1 million, Jarvis is also making changes at its student accommodation arm.

These include bidding for jobs on a 'more conservative basis', which moved one analyst to wonder what they were doing beforehand.

Jarvis is also considering the future of its stake in the London Underground consortium, Tube Lines.

A sale would remove any conflict for Mr Norris, should he take over as mayor, but would also remove a positive longterm revenue stream.

This column suggested selling Jarvis in December and, with rumours of a discounted rights issue circulating, there is no reason to change that view.