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Stadium scares off O'Rourke

UK's biggest private contractor to concentrate on Olympic delivery partner role

LAING O'ROURKE has ruled itself out of the running for the contract to build London's showpiece stadium for the 2012 Olympics.

The UK's biggest private contractor is awaiting the outcome of its bid to become delivery partner for the entire Olympic construction programme but will not be going after the main £280 million stadium.

A senior source at the firm told Construction News: 'In the presentations for the delivery partner role some of the other bidders have been saying we have more experience of actually building things than managing them and we might be more suited to building the main stadium.

'We are not interested in the construction contract for the stadium. We want to expand our repertoire and win the whole delivery role.'

It is understood that the 'Wembley effect' of Multiplex's disastrous losses on the national stadium project and the high risk of the contract has put the firm off.

Laing Construction lost £60 million on its last major stadium deal - the Cardiff Millennium Stadium - before it was sold to Ray O'Rourke for £1 in 2001.

Potential builders have until September 4 to express interest in the deal. But the reluctance of Laing O'Rourke to bid removes a clear favourite from the field and is likely to leave just one UK based bidder - Sir Robert McAlpine - as a realistic contender.

A McAlpine source said: 'We are still talking about it but there has been no final decision yet.'

A host of contractors are understood to have been put off by the risk of a fixedprice design and build deal for the stadium, which the Olympic Delivery Authority wants to be reduced from a capacity of 80,000 to 25,000 after the event.

A senior insider at Taylor Woodrow added that the firm was likely to rule itself out of content ion this week.

The source said: 'Our view is that we have got too much on -I'm not sure we could give it the attention it deserves.

We have a desire to work for repeat business customers and this is a one-off client.

'It would be more of a business decision rather than one influenced by pressure.'

A Bovis Lend Lease source said: 'It is not something we have a track record in and we are likely to leave it to others.'

And Ian Grice, the chief executive of Alfred McAlpine, told Construction News: 'We don't go for these big prestigious projects. We don't go for mega jobs - there are plenty of other good jobs out of the limelight.'

Carillion financial director Chris Girling publicly ruled the company out earlier this year.

The chief executive of one quoted contractor said: 'Which company has made any money on a stadium in the past 15 years? I don't think the ODA can pass that level of risk on to contractors. We should demand a sharing of the risk. It's time the industry said 'we're not going to do it'.'