THREE firms that won part of England's ProCure21 hospital building programme have been chosen to share £1.2 billion-worth of similar work in Wales.
HBG, Interserve and Laing O'Rourke have all made it onto the list of three contractors which will be invited to bid for major capital health projects across Wales over the next four years.
Kier and a joint venture between Norwest Holst and Sir Robert McAlpine had been shortlisted but failed to make their way onto the deal.
The contract has been managed by the Welsh Health Estates, acting on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales, NHS trusts and local health boards.
It had originally been valued at around £150 million in 2006 and was expected to rise to £200 million a year for the remaining three years. But the budget is now expected to grow and there is an opt ion to extend the deal by two years.
One bidder said: 'The original documentation said it would be worth around £800 million. But that figure is going up and the latest estimate that I have been told is £1.2 billion.
'Although none of us are assured of a big bite, we are sure to get some work.
The client told us we would each get a pet project to bring in revenue. That's a sweetener after the bitterness some firms suffered in the English round.
'Then it will be up to us what we win, as everything will be competed for.
Once we're on this list we just negotiate with the individual trusts. As there are only three of us, things should get shared out quite evenly.'
The Welsh programme is based on the English model but it is compulsory for all the Welsh health authorities to sign up. It has also limited its number of contractors to three, unlike the English model, which has 11.
The three contractors are all on the English ProCure21 framework and have all picked up decent amounts of work.
But others had been critical of the programme after failing to bag deals.
Work is due to start on the first Welsh projects later this year.