Tarmac and AI talks fail

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TALKS BETWEEN Tarmac and Aggregate Industries over a pounds 1.8bn merger of their building materials operations collapsed at the 11th hour last night after a bitter row between the two companies' chief executives, writes Francesco Guerrera.

The negotiations over a no-premium merger to form the UK's largest construction group are understood to have foundered over the role of Sir Neville Simms, the chief executive of Tarmac and chairman-designate of the combined group.

AI's chief executive Peter Tom is thought to have rejected Sir Neville's appointment as co-chairman of a key committee charged with overseeing the integration of the two groups.

The Tarmac's boss was also slated to be chief executive of his company's construction division, which was to be spun off as a separate entity.