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Minerva calls for tallest tower tenders

London's biggest office builders are asked to price a £400m office tower deal in the City

THE CAPITAL'S six largest office builders are being lined up to bid for a £400 million deal to build the tallest tower in the City of London.

Property developer Minerva is understood to be putting the finishing touches to a prequalification document for firms to bid to build its 50floor, 216 m-high tower at St Botolphs on the eastern fringes of the Square Mile.

Up to 10,000 people will work in the tower once it is completed.

Documents are expected to drop through the letter boxes of Bouygues, Bovis Lend Lease, Laing O'Rourke, Multiplex, Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska in the next couple of months for completion by August.

It is understood Minerva wants to discuss with each of the firms its intentions for procurement of the scheme, mindful of the risk profile associated with constructing such a major project.

Currently it is expected that the 150,000 sq m project will be procured on a two-stage negotiated basis.

The developer's team is working on plans for the scheme, which has been designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw, in order to get them to a point where the contractors can get their teeth into bidding for the project.

It is also working through section 106 legal agreements to improve infrastructure in the tower's surroundings.

The project team is understood to have approached about a half a dozen of the capital's major demolition outfits, including Keltbray and John F Hunt, in order to bring down the existing building on the site.The demolition work is expected to start in November.

Work on the tower itself has been pencilled in for April next year if sufficient tenants can be signed up to make construction financially viable.

There is a growing belief among developers that the market for office buildings in the City is coming back after a couple of years in the doldrums.

The team is also preparing for talks with major steel and curtain walling contractors to allow them a lead-in period ahead of work on the scheme.

The curtain walling deal is understood to be valued at around £70-80 million, with the steel package coming in at £25 million.