Hochtief's bosses in Germany got cold feet about pricing the 2012 Olympic Games aquatics centre.
Construction News understands senior management at the firm’s head office in Essen, near Dortmund, instructed their counterparts in Swindon to pull out of the deal.
One bid source said: “We got a call from Hochtief over here and we were told ‘Germany will not support the bid’. They were as gutted as we were. We’re a bit fed up after all the time and effort we put in but what can we do?
“It’s cost reimbursable, the programme is not ridiculously tight. I just don’t understand the decision.”
The official reason given by the firm was that it was worried by the impact of its workload elsewhere.
In a statement, the firm said: “After taking on substantial new work in the Middle East and Germany our company is unable to commit the specialist building resources required to do justice to what will be a superb venue for the Games and London.”
Hochtief’s move follows that of another former bidder, French contractor Eiffel, which pulled out after deciding it didn’t want to build it under a target cost contract. Balfour Beatty remains the only team left seeking the job.
Olympic Delivery Authority construction director Howard Shiplee said: “We are looking forward to receiving a tender from Balfour Beatty.”
The ODA confirmed the deal will also include building a 250 m long footbridge which will take spectators from Statford City, the mixed-use scheme Westfield is building, to the aquatics centre itself. The 40 m wide bridge will cross the pool and after the Games part of it will be turned into a public plaza.
Industry sources said the firm was certain to bid the job with its tender due in by the end of the year.
One said: “Balfours are pricing other jobs on the Olympics and it would be bad PR for them if they didn’t bid the aquatics centre. I can’t imagine a company like Balfour entering the race if they were not prepared to win it…once they’re in, they’re in.”
A Balfour Beatty spokesman said it was still fully committed to the tender process.
For details on CN’s Games Briefing conference on October 24, go to www.gamesbriefing.co.uk