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Tarmac and Kier buy Barr to break it up

FINANCE - Scottish contractor and materials firm to be sold with debts of £15.7 million

TARMAC and Kier are teaming up to buy and break up Scottish contracting and materials outfit Barr.

This pair and Ennstone made a shortlist of three bidders. Aggregate Industries dropped out earlier.

A source close to the sale said: 'Kier is doing the deal but Tarmac is buying the quarries and the pre-cast operations.' Barr's aggregates arm should generate most of the £25 million price tag put on the privately-owned outfit from Ayr.

Barr, which declined to comment, has a construction division that operates across the UK and a materials arm that produces dry stone, readymix concrete and coated products for the south-west of Scotland.

Accounts for the year to March 2005 show Barr Holdings turned over £147.5 million ? down £4.9 million on the previous year ? and had net debts of £15.7 million but net assets of £23.5 million.

These include freehold quarries with a net value of £10.6 million and leasehold quarries valued at £7.5 million. Barr is looking to open a quarry near an existing site by the M77.

The company also runs a manufacturing division that produces precast and structural steel.

During the past financial year, Barr ploughed £4.8 million into the business, part of which was used to rebuild its steel fabrication plant in Creetown.

The firm has £6.5 million-worth of plant and landfill sites valued at £10.4 million for an environmental division that was hived off into a separate company in October 2005 and is being bought by local outfit William Tracy.

Barr was founded by Bill Barr and his brothers but new management took over in 2003 after the business got into trouble on stadium work and diversification. The firm was put up for sale late last year.