Speculation has begun to mount over the future of Midland floorcovering firm Amtico which could be up for sale with a #100 million price tag.

The company, which makes and sells specialised vinyl flooring, is reported to have approached Close Brothers Corporate Finance to conduct an auction.

CBCF has been appointed to lead the sale by Amtico's shareholders - a mixture of the current directors and private equity firm Electra.

Electra backed a #52.8 million management buyout of the business 11 years ago and is now believed to be mulling over a sale of the business, which employs 460 people at its sites in Coventry and Solihull.

Among the options are a floatation and a trade sale or a secondary MBO for the firm in which Electra invested an initial #17.1 million.

There is expected to be strong interest from private equity houses and trade buyers, with 3i and HqCapital though to be considering offers.

Trade buyers are thought to include Carpetright, which has its own laminates business, and retailers including Topps Tiles and Floors 2 Go.

Last year Amtico, which opened a factory in the US in 1999, made an operating profit of #8.7 million on turnover of #80 million. It has been claimed that first round bids must be submitted by May 8.

Sources close to Amtico said: "Electra have been invested since 1995 and an exit at some stage is one the cards.

"One of three options is under consideration, an IPO, sale or refinancing.

"But no decision has been taken.

"CBCF will have been approached as part of this process to decide what to do.

"They will be investigating what interest is out there. Meanwhile it is business as usual at the company. I expect the value to be at least #100 million."

At present Amtico floorings are used on the floors of American nuclear submarines, hospitals as well as high street retailers like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams.

More than 300 different types of plastic flooring are produced, ranging from different wooden effects to ones which simulate glass and metal effects, bright colours and textures.

Earlier this month chief executive Jonathan Duck confirmed to The Post that changes were planned at the firm which was once part of the Courtaulds empire.

But no decision has been taken yet, said Mr Duck, as Amtico targets further organic growth.