Australian contractor withdraws from competition for massive regeneration project.

Australian contractor Multiplex has withdrawn from the competition to win a £1.5 bn contract to redevelop the Elephant & Castle shopping centre in south London. A Multiplex spokesman said that it had pulled out of the competition after reviewing the bid documents against its current business strategy. As two other potential bidders – Canary Wharf and Prudential – have already dropped out of the scheme only three parties where left in the running as the deadline for bids passed at 5pm yesterday.

The three remaining bidders are: a consortium including Blackfriars Investments, Elliot Bernerd and Richard Lefrak; St Mowden, who own Elephant & Castle, and Lend Lease.

According to The Times, Southwark Council, which owns approximately 80% of the land, will now proceed with the bidding process with only these three options, and will select a preferred bidder next year. It had originally hoped to make its selection by the end of 2005.

The contract will include 5,300 homes as well as 74,000m2 of retail and leisure facilities, and 46,000m2 of public facilities.