RAY O'ROURKE, chairman of Laing O'Rourke, has set the company a £5 billion turnover target in a bid to make it the largest contractor in the UK.
Several sources at the firm said Mr O'Rourke had handed down stiff targets to all of the company's regions and was also planning acquisitions and expansion overseas in order to achieve the target by 2008.
One senior source said: 'We'll be going on the acquisition trail as there is no way we can do this organically. We are looking into Europe and beyond, as well as targeting more work in the Middle East.
'All the other contractors are looking to get out of contracting but we are not a risk-averse company.'
The move would take Laing O'Rourke well beyond the two largest UK contractors, Amec (£4.3 billion) and Balfour Beatty (£3.1 billion).
Another Laing O'Rourke insider said: 'It is going to be hard work, as we can't take stuff on at a loss and we are trying to treble turnover without trebling overheads.
We'll be doing a lot of the stuff ourselves and cutting down on our supply chain.'
The chief executive of one rival contractor said: 'They are being seen as increasingly aggressive, operating the tactics of the subbie on a national scale.'