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05May94 UK: EMCO JOINS LIST OF HOSPITAL CASUALTIES - CARDIFF SCHEME.

By Brian Warner.EMCO, a division of the East Midlands Electricity Board, has become the third service engineer joint venture partner to pull out of tendering for a £40 million-plus hospital contract near Cardiff.EMCO was in tandem with Trafalgar House for the new Taff-Ely Rhondda Hospital at Llantrisant, but according to informed sources decided to quit about four weeks into the tendering process.Now Trafalgar House has joined Laing and Higgs and Hill on the casualty list - those firms were also forced to withdraw because of problems with their partners.Sources close to the job said Trafalgar House had already spent about £4,000 on working up the bid when EMCO decided to quit. They claim EMCO had given no previous indication of pulling out.EMCO has confirmed it is no longer on the job, but has officially declined to go into details about its decision. All that is known is that the move was made for 'commercial reasons', and had nothing to do with the working relationship between the firm and Trafalgar House.Another insider claimed: 'Market conditions and the state of the economy are such that joint ventures can make firms wary about their liabilities and the financial implications of such a set-up.'Laing earlier dropped out of the reckoning in the run-up to the financial problems which hit its partner, MF Kent.And it is understood that Higgs and Hill had to withdraw after difficulties its partner, Sulzer, experienced in getting guarantees from its Swiss parent company.Now only four groups are left in the hunt: Amec/Matthew Hall; Taylor Woodrow/Taymel; Kyle Stewart/How; and Kier/Rosser and Russell.An award is likely next month, with the four-year project for the Welsh Health Common Services Authority starting in July. CONSTRUCTION NEWS