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27 March, 2013 - 14:31 By Tony Quested

May Gurney in three-in-a-bid romp

Kier,-Paul-Nelson

Norfolk integrated services business May Gurney found itself the blushing mistress sandwiched between two ardent suitors in a three-in-a-bid romp that sent UK market pulses racing.

It looked earlier today like May Gurney would be wedded and bedded to construction giant Costain in a merger that would value the combined enterprise at around £400 million.

Then Bedfordshire based Kier came banging on the boudoir door by hinting at a counter proposal.

The ménage à trois saw May Gurney’s London share price rocket 60.50p – almost 33 per cent – to 245p.

The market must have thought the Costain-May Gurney marriage was all but consummated before Kier raised its impediment.

The Sandy-headquarter group, which employs more than 10,000 people worldwide and has an annual revenue of £2.1bn, said it held May Gurney in high regard “as a good quality support services business with a range of services which complements Kier's existing offering.”

It said a combination of Kier and May Gurney would create significant value for shareholders, establishing a market-leading and well-balanced business. The enlarged group would offer an unrivalled range of services to local authorities as well as providing Kier with greater access to the regulated sector.

“To that end, Kier has made previous attempts to discuss a potential combination with May Gurney and has been monitoring the business' recent performance. In light of the Costain announcement, Kier is considering its options.”

It had earlier been announced that Costain Plc, headquartered in Maidenhead in Berkshire, would acquire May Gurney’s infrastructure and maintenance business for around £177m in an all-share deal valuing the combined business at just under £400m.

The companies said both boards had agreed the terms which would be put to shareholders, but as part of the merger around 150 jobs would be cut from the combined workforce.

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