Shareholders tell Mouchel to invite bids

A NUMBER of major institutional shareholders have approached the chairman of embattled professional services firm Mouchel calling for a sale of the company.

The key shareholders are understood to have told chairman Bo Lerenius they would like a sale of the firm, despite Mouchel having so far staved off several offers from engineering group Costain.

They are understood to prefer a debt financed offer for the company, rather than see it continue to ride the uncertain public sector services market alone.

“Most shareholders in my opinion want them [the board] to get taken out. They don’t mind really who does it. Costain would be fine, although they’d prefer cash. But if they can’t get cash then Costain paper would be better than Mouchel paper,” analyst at Arden Partners Geoff Allum said.

The development comes as Mouchel announced a refinancing deal worth £170m until March 2014 with its lenders.

However the deal is said to carry a charge as high as £7m in fees, which has raised concern among shareholders.

Management at the firm, which last week received an increased £172m cash and shares offer from Costain, said they were “actively reviewing” all approaches and other options in order to enhance shareholder value.