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Carillion and Eric Wright pick up Ask's £1bn prize

CONTRACTS - NORTHERN ENGLAND

CARILLION and Eric Wright have answered developer Ask's call for contractors to help build its £1 billion programme of projects.

The property developer has selected the pair to deliver its development portfolio in northern England.Carillion will build the major schemes while Eric Wright will take on Ask's smaller projects.

The pair saw off rival bids from 25 other major firms, with Laing O'Rourke and Bowmer & Kirkland thought to have been pipped at the post.

Ask has a large project pipeline including the redevelopment of the Southern Gateway area of Manchester and the creation of a new business district in Ashton-underLyme.

The work on offer ranges in value from a £4 million warehouse on the M62 to a £100 million hotel and leisure complex at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Carillion is expected to carry out about £35 millionworth of work a year under the deal, with Eric Wright picking up a slightly lower figure.

One source close to the bidding said: 'It's a good deal for them to win because it really does take the Egan principals and run with them. Ask looked at all the bids and whittled them down to the final pair based not on commercial criteria, but on factors like the firms' people, track record and company ethos.'

The projects covered by the partnership are currently at their earliest stages, allowing the firms to bring their experience to bear in the planning stages before work starts on site. It is hoped the firms will be able to set up fully integrated project teams with their designers and major subcontractors, allowing long-term relationships that continue from project to project.