AFTER leading the way for most of 2004, Bovis Lend Lease has been pipped to the annual contractor's league title by Laing O'Rourke.
A £600 million contract to redevelop Battersea power station fell out of the Anglo-Australian giant's total, allowing Laing O'Rourke to sneak into top spot.
Laing O'Rourke's order book for 2004 was underpinned by a strong showing in two regions.
Bovis Lend Lease edged Ray O'Rourke's empire into second spot in London but the situation was reversed in the north-west.
Local outfits Pochin and Eric Wright made the northwest top 10 for the first time but this was rare in a year when national giants strengthened their grip in the regions, with Kier and Balfour Beatty dominant.
Leadbitter, the Dutch-owned contractor from Oxford, narrowly missed out on a place in the south-east top 10, which is led by Kier and dominated by national contractors.
Kier topped three regional tables, winning most work in East Anglia, where local firms RG Carter, J Breheny and Propencity made the top 10.
The south-west is a hotbed for regional contractors, with Cowlin's expansion taking the firm into third. Local firms Midas, Pearce and Rok all made the top 10 but Kier reigns supreme.
Balfour Beatty returned to regional contracting by buying Mansell and tops the table in Scotland, where a previous strong showing by local firms is being diluted.
Ogilvie and Robertson made the top 10 but Barr, Dawn and Tulloch, which made the top flight in recent years, failed to appear.
Balfour Beatty also topped the tables in the West and East Midlands with local firm North Midland edging into the top 10 in the latter for the first time.
The only table led by a local outfit was Yorkshire, where social housing conglomerate Keepmoat won and JF Finnegan took parent Headcrown into the top 10.
In Wales, local outfit Opco just missed out on a place in the top 10, which features two regional firms - Fifehead and Andrew Scott - but is led by Costain.
The only real province of local outfits is Northern Ireland, with Morrison appearing by courtesy of sister arm Purac.