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Race narrows for £825m roads deals as EM Highway Services pulls out

The race has narrowed for two of the Highways Agency’s asset support contracts worth a combined £825m after EM Highway Services withdrew from the tender process.

EM Highway Services was invited to tender for the £350m Area 4 ASC and the £475m Area 12 ASC, but the Highways Agency confirmed to Construction News it withdrew its bid upon winning the £599m Area 9 contract from incumbent Amey at the end of December.

Mouchel’s highways business is now appointed on four regional Highways Agency support contracts – Areas 1, 3, 9 and 13 ­– the maximum it can deliver under current rules that limit contractors to a third of the network, or four contracts.

It leaves five contractors in the running for each of the contracts.

Asked in an interview with Construction News whether the Highways Agency should revise its market share limits allowing contractors to win more work, Mouchel chief executive Grant Rumbles said: “We always want to do what the client wants.

“Will the Highways Agency look at how the whole network is managed and how they procure? I imagine that will be part of what they do [during the reform].

“If the Highways Agency decides they want to change the balance of how they award contracts, they could even change the shape of the areas, I don’t know – frankly, we’ll support them in whatever they want to do.”

Mr Rumbles added that Mouchel “must be doing something right”, to have won the maximum share of contracts.

Behind EM, Balfour Beatty Mott Macdonald, Amey Highways and Aone+ Integrated Highways Services (a Halcrow, Colas and Costain venture) are each appointed to two ASC areas.

Incumbent joint venture Balfour Beatty Mott Macdonald will battle Amey, Aone+, Atkins Skanska JV and Carillion Construction for Area 4 in Kent and Sussex.

Incumbent Aone+ will compete against Amey, Atkins Skanska, Bam URS and Carillion for Area 12 in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “When we published the contract notices for Areas 4 and 12, the competitions for Areas 3, 6, 8 and 9 were still running. We made it clear then to all potential suppliers that market share limits would be applied at the award of contract, and that such award could only be secured if they are not exceeded.

“We’ve now invited tenders for area 4 and 12 and it is for each company to decide whether to make a bid,” he added.

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