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Predators eye Gleeson

SPECULATION that Gleeson plans to cut its remaining construction links increased this week with claims that rivals were eying up its £200 million civil engineering business.

The firm sold its loss-making building operation to a management team in August last year, leaving a smaller company concentrating on house building, regeneration, investments and civil and process engineering. But one insider told Construction News that Morgan Sindall and Galliford Try had both looked at the company's civils business, which includes its rail construction company, Gleeson MCL, M&E maintenance arm Powerminster and its concrete repairs operation.

Last month venture capitalist Castle Acquisitions, led by chairman Chris Mills, said it held talks with Gleeson management about a possible offer for the group, which was quickly rebuffed by chief executive Terry Massingham.

The source added: 'Massingham is a homes guy and the board is looking to get rid of the civils business and be just a house builder because they are being stalked by a venture capitalist. They should have given the engineering arm a chance to look for an MBO.' New finance director Paul Wallwork is believed to have instructed his department to go through the books of each engineering company. The source said: 'A lot of people are starting to leave or check their redundancy terms.' But one senior Gleeson source said: 'There are no discussions to get rid of civils.'