French contracting giant Bouygues is favourite to pick up the troubled Wembley Stadium redevelopment following the dismissal of Bovis Lend Lease/Multiplex.
Developer Wembley National Stadium Limited terminated the preferred bidder’s contract last week because it could not build the stadium for the £320m guaranteed maximum price.
Sources close to HGB, Sir Robert McAlpine and Mowlem, which have all tendered for the project, said they were unlikely to rebid for the scheme because of the GMP. A source close to Bouygues said that, although it had not started discussions with WNSL, it would be interested in the scheme.
The source said: “Bouygues will be re-registering its interest in the project. That’s the message.”The source added that Bouygues would not be put off by WNSL insisting on a guaranteed maximum price for the project. He said: “Bouygues’ approach is that if it has time to study the contract, it will be happy to do it.”
One City analyst said that the Wembley job would give Bouygues the perfect opportunity to establish itself in the UK. Bouygues led the consortium that built Paris’ Stade de France in 1998.
He said: “It is very cash rich. Bouygues could afford to buy the English Premiership if it wanted.” Bouygues submitted an early bid for Wembley last summer, in joint venture with UK outfit Alfred McAlpine. It is unclear whether the relationship will be struck up again for a fresh bid.
Bouygues is very cash rich. It could afford to buy the English Premiership if it wanted
WNSL refused to name any contractors that it was in discussions with, but said an acceptable alternative would emerge in the next few weeks.
A WNSL spokesperson confirmed that the contract would remain guaranteed maximum price because of the project’s funding structure. He said: “All the construction is financed by the City. The lottery money has already been spent on acquiring the site.”
The spokesperson denied that the developer had been over-demanding and stressed the prestige of the project. He said: “We feel we have a good solid project and a great opportunity for a contractor.”
The dispute with Bovis Lend Lease/Multiplex came to a head at the end of last week when the joint-venture contractor produced its final estimate for the scheme. It is understood that the estimate was £20m higher than the developer’s maximum price.
A joint-venture team source expressed sadness at the termination: “Naturally, we are disappointed, but at the end of the day we could not see any other way of getting below the price we did.”
The joint venture won the contract for the project, designed by Foster and Partners with HOK+Lobb Sports Architects, in February. The scheme will have to undergo design changes to get the cost down to £320m.