Merger talks between the heads of two of Northern Ireland's biggest construction companies could bear fruit next week.
Mivan and Lagan Group Holdings bosses Kevin Lagan and Ivan McCabrey, whose businesses each employ around 385 people, are discussing the benefits of a merger and what a joint entity could be called.
Lagan Group, which is headquartered in Belfast, has interests in quarrying, cement, housebuilding and civil engineering, while Antrim-based Mivan specialises in fit-out projects abroad, including the lucrative cruise ship sector.
Economist John Simpson said a tie-in could benefit both multi-million enterprises: "Lagan has a good reputation for dealing with international contracts on its area of specialism.
"The merger with Mivan would add a new specialism which broadens their business and strengthens their performance in the marketplace.
"It would be a useful outcome for both companies."
There was no comment from either party on the merger – and no detail from Mivan on which parts of its business would be subject to the alliance.
Founder Ivan McCabrey stepped down as director from Mivan Ltd and Mivan (UK) Ltd last year after setting up new companies Mivan (Russia) Ltd and Mivan (No 1) Ltd.
In February this year a planned merger between Lagan Cement and part of the Quinn Group was called off when Kevin Lagan received a bullet in the post.
One insider said: "Both Mivan and Lagan Group performed remarkably well in the run-up to the downturn, mostly in export markets, and survived fairly well in the downturn.
"Lagan and Mivan know each other fairly well and have collaborated in the past."
The companies consider that they could be better able to bid for contracts in the global market –particularly in the Middle East – together than apart.
Lagan Group's company heads, who are both in their sixties, are towering figures in the construction industry despite maintaining a fairly low public profile.
Kevin and younger brother Michael ran the Lagan business until a fraternal rift led them to split their affairs. Michael Lagan now runs Lagan Construction, which specialises in civil engineering and contracting.