AN ATTEMPT by W S Atkins to buy Mace for £5 million collapsed when bosses at the management contractor demanded double that.
Atkins tabled its bid late last year, but pulled out earlier this month.
Sources close to the deal said Mace insisted on holding out for £10 million.
One said: 'Mace valued the work in progress more than Atkins.
'When projects are halfway through you can value them as assets but, when Atkins carried out due diligence, its assessment of the amount Mace was worth was way off the asking price.'
Mace chief executive Bob White refuted these figures, but insisted that a price of £12 million originally mooted for the deal was 'inflated'.
He said: 'The figure that was in the press was incorrect in the first place.'
Mr White has written to staff assuring them all talks are now off.
The deal also faced resistance from a number of Mace staff.
One said: 'We were worried Atkins was coming in just for the construction management side and everyone else would be surplus to requirements.'