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Phoenix rescue costs Multiplex £15m

MULTIPLEX will end up pumping over £15 million into one of its struggling Wembley stadium subbies by the time the project finishes.

Construction News understands the firm has already put £13 million into Phoenix, the principal electrical contractor on the job, since being asked for help last October.

Multiplex bosses are believed to have written off the amount. It will be included in the expected £150 million the company will announce it has lost on Wembley at next month's interim results.

One source said: 'Phoenix has been on regular monthly payments since the autumn. It's not a blank cheque and Phoenix is having to work hard for its money. But I think Multiplex took a view to pay them what they needed to keep them financially solvent.

'I think Multiplex thought replacing Phoenix would have been curtains for the timetable. And they wouldn't have been able to get anybody in on a fixedprice either, not unless that firm was from Mars.' Phoenix's contract was fixed at £37 million but it has been hit by delays, cost overruns and acceleration costs.

The firm's Wembley director, Brian Ingram, said: 'We're not a multi-million pound company. Multiplex have sat down with us, looked at the costs and been fair and reasonable.' Phoenix was due to finish its contract last May but still has more than 600 men on the job. It is now set to complete its contract on February 14.

Mr Ingram added: 'We're not making a bean. To say we're being given money is wrong.

Still having 600 men here is a cost implication.

Hopefully we will walk away still in business.'

Multiplex's top brass are understood to have considered buying Phoenix but ruled this out because of the time and risks a takeover would have involved.

News of the financial assistance comes as the former boss of industry reform body Constructing Excellence said the Aussie firm did not deserve to be known as an aggressive contractor.

Dennis Lenard said: 'Multiplex doesn't have a history of adversarial relationships in Australia.

They are renowned as good builders.'