One of Britain’s biggest outsourcers is hoisting a for sale sign over two of its major divisions as part of plans being drawn up by its Spanish owner to offload the business next year.
Sky News has learned that Amey has hired advisers to sell its environmental services and utilities divisions, which between them account for approximately one-third of the company’s 17,000-strong workforce.
City sources said on Tuesday that the auction of the two units would get under way shortly.
Amey’s environmental services arm includes several giant energy-from-waste facilities and handles refuse collection for local authorities, covering more than one million UK homes.
The unit also cleans streets in the City of London, Gloucester and Dartford, Kent, as well as handling commercial waste for more than 16,000 clients.
It is among the biggest such operations in Britain, and could draw interest from other players in the sector as well as financial bidders, according to insiders.
Amey, which is owned by the Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, is also keen to offload its utilities division, which handles repair and maintenance jobs for clients including Severn Trent and Yorkshire Water.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the professional services firm, has been appointed to handle the two disposals, according to insiders.
Between them, they are estimated to employ up to 6,000 people.
One source described the two units as “challenged” and said their sale would pave the way for Ferrovial to secure a deal for the rest of Amey during 2020.
The future ownership of Amey has been uncertain for some time as Ferrovial – a part-owner of Heathrow Airport – has signalled its intention to offload its international services assets.
Separate processes are already under way to sell those businesses in Spain and Australia.
In the UK, Amey struck a critical deal earlier this year to extricate itself from a cripplingly expensive road maintenance contract in Birmingham.
The deal cost the outsourcer £300m, with Amey now tied into the contract until next March.
Amey undertakes a wide range of other services, including providing equipment to British military bases in the UK, Cyprus and Germany, and managing sites for HM Prison and Probation Service.
A successful break-up of the group should boost the chances of Amey surviving as an independent business without requiring an insolvency process – unlike Carillion, which collapsed into compulsory liquidation in January 2018.
Interserve, another big player in the sector, was taken over by its lenders earlier this year following a pre-pack administration.
It recently confirmed the departure of Debbie White, its chief executive, ahead of a likely break-up.
Amey declined to comment on its own disposal processes.