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Aussie giant in school bids

A DEFUNCT Scottish quantity surveyor and an Australian engineering giant are behind a mystery consortium bidding for almost £1 billion-worth of schools work in the UK.

The group, going under the name Comprehensive Estates Services, includes Edinburgh outfit Americium EDI and Singapore-based CPG Facilities Management. Both firms are linked to Australia's Downer EDI, which boasts a turnover of over £1.2 billion.

Americium is registered in the name of George Henderson, a former senior partner at James Gentles & Sons, an Edinburgh quantity surveying practice that closed down more than a year ago.Max Fordham, a local building services firm, operates from the same premises and is providing environmental advice to the group.

A source at Max Fordham said Mr Henderson is leading the outfit's UK activities ago.Max Fordham, a local building services firm, operates from the same premises and is providing environmental advice to the group.

A source at Max Fordham said Mr Henderson is leading the outfit's UK activities but Mr Henderson himself was unavailable to comment.

Despite securing places on a number of shortlists, CES has not yet lined up a contractor.

One insider said: 'I think they're hoping to pick up contractors as they go.They've been talking to some of the medium-sized Scottish firms for some of the smaller deals.'

CES has expressed interest in a massive £500 million strategic framework education package in Northern Ireland.The consortium has already made the shortlist for £140 million of schools work in North and East Ayrshire.