Cleveland Bridge owner set to fight Wembley contractor if result of adjudication next week is unsatisfactory
The Saudi owner of steel firm Cleveland Bridge has pledged to take contractor Multiplex to the High Court, if necessary, over its decision to take the subcontractor off the Wembley national stadium.
Sheikh Abdullah Al Rushaid, chairman of the Al Rushaid Investment Group that owns Cleveland Bridge, has privately assured senior company directors that he will take further action against Multiplex if the firm loses an adjudication decision, due next week.
It is understood that the ruling hinges on whether Multiplex made a £5m overpayment to Cleveland Bridge for work from February to July. Multiplex is also claiming an additional £5m from Cleveland Bridge.
Multiplex claims that a “clear-the-air” agreement in February, which suspended payment disputes, was temporary in nature. The agreement was intended to allow Cleveland Bridge to address cash-flow problems while fresh contract terms were being arranged for the project.
Cleveland Bridge contends that the agreement was “ongoing”. It also claims that it was owed £6m from the original subcontract.
A senior Cleveland Bridge source said that Al Rushaid was becoming increasingly determined to pursue matters if the adjudication decision did not settle the issues.
The source said: “In a number of discussions, he [Al Rushaid] has indicated that he is determined to fight on to the High Court should the adjudication fail.”
Building revealed in August that Cleveland Bridge had set up a £15m fighting fund for the action.
Multiplex refused to comment but has said in the past that it would “rigorously” defend any action.
Cleveland Bridge is also set to disclose evidence that will demonstrate that the Wembley project is between six and eight months behind schedule.
The dispute between the two firms turned ugly last month after Cleveland Bridge was not invited to the topping-out ceremony, attended by Tony Blair, Sven-Goran Eriksson and David Beckham.
n Multiplex is understood to have held a board meeting in Sydney last Friday to consider whether to match a £2.2bn bid from Westfield for UK property company Chelsfield. Analyst Merrill Lynch warned that Multiplex could not afford to bid against Westfield but could miss large contracts if it did not.