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To build or not to build?


AMEC summed up the shift firms have made since Amey, Interserve and Jarvis rebranded as support services businesses. It is now selling off its construction business where former chief executive Sir Peter Mason blamed the management team for a series of blunders which cost the firm millions. Spie was flogged, Sir Peter went in October and the new man in charge is now getting rid of anything that could be deemed building. It's all about the firm's energy business.

Not a huge surprise, given the sort of sums Amec's construction business has lost over the years and with margins stuck at the lower end of the single digits.

Some, such as Laing O'Rourke and Rok, the selfstyled nation's local builder, were happy to be known as builders. But the trend for diversifying into new markets and downplaying the role of muddy boots construction activity continued.

Even the recently floated May Gurney got in on the act, describing itself earlier this month as a 'dynamic integrated support and construction services company'.

And in winning a £360 million contract for insurer Norwich Union in November, Carillion said key features of the deal 'include the creation of six regional customer centres'. In the old days, it was called building.