Workers at one of Lancashire’s biggest employers fear they could lose their jobs after a takeover by the Spanish owners of Heathrow Airport.
Ferrovial Services announced the £385m takeover of Enterprise plc on Thursday in a move which will see the support services business merged into Amey, the Spanish group’s own services firm.
Enterprise employs hundreds of people at its head office on Centurion Way, Leyland, with a workforce of nearly 10,000 staff across the country carrying out contracts including motorways maintenance and street cleaning.
One worker, who asked not to be named, said the announcement was “the worst kept secret” among its staff with rumours of a takeover first emerging last summer.
They said: “At the moment, the company is saying everything is positive and it is good news but if you are merging any business into another similar business, you are going to get cross over.
“I cannot see Ferrovial cutting its own management to save Enterprise, so everyone expects there to be an impact.”
Another worker said there was “a black mood” at the company’s Lancashire headquarters, they added: “People are already talking about redundancies.
“We are told it could take until the Spring to rubber-stamp the deal, so people are expecting redundancies to be announced by then.”
In a statement circulated to staff yesterday morning, chief executive Ian Fraser said the deal was “positive news” for the company’s workforce.
He said Ferrovial had plans to “grow and invest in the business” and said both companies would operate separately until it received approval from European regulators.
In a further statement, chairman Alan Peterson, a renowned ‘company doctor’ brought in by its private equity owners, 3i, in 2011, said the deal “underpins the future growth” of the business.
He added: “This transaction is a logical next step for Enterprise, and we look forward with excitement to joining the enlarged Ferrovial Services business in the UK.”
3i backed a management buy-out, led by former chief executive Owen McLaughlin, in 2007 but was forced to write off its £200m investment last year after public spending cuts bit at the heart of Enterprise.
It is believed Mr McLaughlin remains Enterprise’s largest individual shareholder, although it is unclear if he will benefit from the deal.
Ferrovial Services chief executive Santiago Olivares said the deal strengthened its UK base.