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JLE losses put French tunneller on the skids

Finance: Soletanche is wound down after going into the red for the second year running

CONTRACTUAL claims on the Jubilee Line Extension have hit profits at French-owned tunnelling specialist Soletanche for the second year running.

The subsidiary of French company SoletancheBachy made a pre-tax loss of more than £896,000 for the year ending December 31 1998 on turnover of £11.4 million.

Last year it made losses of about £5.7 million on turnover of £16.6 million.

Soletanche is now effectively being wound down and the contractor is not tendering for future work.

Aspokesman said negotiations to resolve contractual claims were continuing with London Underground on JLE contracts 103 and 105, but that progress was 'slow'.

The contractor was in a joint venture with Japanese tunnelling outfit Aoki on both of these jobs.

Technically, the £64 million contract 103 between

Waterloo and London Bridge was one of the most difficult JLE packages.

The contract involved digging a tunnel underneath an existing viaduct, which needed continual compensation grouting to protect it.

At the same time, Soletanche was working on contract 105 between London Bridge and Canada Water.

That contract was originally estimated at about £70 million but is understood to have eventually cost more than £100 million.

Meanwhile, Soletanche has come to a settlement with London Underground for contract 104, on which it worked with Tarmac.

Soletanche is part of the French-owned Soletanche-Bachy and a sister company to the UKbased Bachy-Soletanche.