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Philip Hammond’s investment firm in £300M Amey takeover bid

Former chancellor Philip Hammond is reportedly involved in a £300M takeover bid for Amey.

Buckthorn, an investment firm where Lord Hammond is a partner, is allegedly “one of a small number of bidders trying to buy Amey”, according to Sky News.

According to the broadcaster, Buckthorn has submitted an offer for Amey as part of an auction being organised by its Spanish parent company, Ferrovial.

The deal is reportedly worth between £300M and £400M.

Buckthorn describes itself as a private investment firm predominantly focused on acquiring assets in the energy sector.

Its portfolio includes Ashtead Technology, which makes advanced subsea tools, and Paradigm Energy Ventures, which it owns alongside an arm of Saudi Aramco.

The Buckthorn partnership also includes Lord Colin Moynihan, the former sports minister who served under Margaret Thatcher.

Ferrovial relaunched its sale of Amey earlier this year, two years after a previous attempt to sell it failed to locate a buyer.

Ferrovial bought Amey for about £80M in 2003, saying the acquisition would give the Spanish company “a strong position in the UK”, which it saw as “a key European market with the most experience of outsourcing services”.

Fifteen years later Ferrovial confirmed it was looking to sell its entire services division at a time when Amey was in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The Oxford-headquartered company in 2018 reported a £190M pre-tax loss after setting aside more than £200M to deal with a fast-unravelling roads contract in the West Midlands.

A legal dispute with Birmingham City Council over the quality of work delivered under the 25-year highways maintenance and management deal was dragging on and attempts to sell Amey were ultimately unsuccessful at that time.

However an agreement was eventually reached to free Amey from the Birmingham deal, with Kier taking over. And earlier this year it was reported that Ferrovial had engaged financial services giant Morgan Stanley to restart the sale process.

No firm frontrunners have emerged for the company until now but Japanese engineering giant Nippon Koei was among those tipped back in 2018 to be likely to consider tabling a bid.

Morgan Stanley is handling the auction of Amey. Amey and Buckthorn declined to comment.

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