Bovis Lend Lease seeks legal advice as former joint-venture partner grabs redevelopment contract.

Bovis Lend Lease is understood to be considering taking legal action against joint-venture partner Multiplex, picked this week as contractor for Wembley Stadium. The shock choice of the Australian outfit came only a week after the Bovis Lend Lease/Multiplex preferred bidder contract was terminated on 30 August.

Sources close to Bovis Lend Lease said there could be grounds for legal action as the joint-venture partnership was still in place when Multiplex was negotiating solely with Wembley National Stadium Limited. One source said: “The joint venture has yet to be terminated. There are grounds for seeking compensation.”

In a statement, WNSL said the new contract had now been set at a £326.5m guaranteed maximum price. This is £6.5m more than the price WNSL was thought to be demanding from the Bovis Lend Lease/Multiplex team. The joint-venture contractor’s estimate for the scheme was understood to be £340m. The WNSL statement said: “When talks with the consortium broke down over the failure to agree a price, negotiations began with Multiplex.”

A WNSL spokesperson said the new price for the contract was within the firm’s business plan and denied that entering talks with Multiplex alone was out of the ordinary. “I don’t think it’s that strange that we talked with Multiplex alone. That’s the nature of joint partnerships,” he said.

The spokesperson said it was unlikely that Multiplex would be seeking a joint-venture partner. “Our contract is with Multiplex,” he said. He added that, because the existing stadium would take a long time to demolish, Multiplex would be have a sufficient breathing space to prepare for the huge project. The choice of Multiplex follows widespread speculation that French contractor Bouygues was favourite to pick up the troubled contract.

Construction should begin in late spring 2001 and be completed by late 2003. The Bovis Lend Lease/Multiplex joint venture won the contract for the project, designed by Foster and Partners with HOK + Lobb Sports Architects, in February.