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29Oct92 PORTUGAL: LISBON BRIDGE GROUPS ARE UNDER EC SCRUTINY.

The European Commission is investigating claims that the Portuguese transport ministry broke EC directives this week when it invited prequalifying proposals for the 130,000 million escudo (£605 million) construction of the second Tagus crossing outside Lisbon.The inquiry started after the Portuguese transport minister, Joaquim Ferreira do Amaral, said in an interview last Wednesday that five groups would be invited to submit prequalifying bids this week.The five, which include Trafalgar House, Tarmac and John Laing, have been shortlisted by GATTEL, the state-owned bridge company responsible for the project.But Construction News understands they were only selected because they had already offered to build the 8 km bridge between Sacaven and Montijo.The investigation, which started last Monday, is being held by the Portuguese desk at Directorate General III, the group responsible for ensuring that EC directives on fair competition are compiled with.A spokesman for Tarmac, which has linked with Philip Holzmann, Holland's HBG and two Portuguese contractors, said: 'We have been invited to submit company details, but that is as far as it has gone.'