Multliplex postpones a court hearing with M&E contractor Honeywell until next year

Multiplex has postponed a court battle with a key Wembley subcontractor in the hope of reaching an out-of-court settlement.

Building understands that Multiplex and its M&E contractor Honeywell have postponed a court hearing about project costs due this month until February next year.

The news emerged as Multiplex chairman Allan McDonald told investors that the scale of Multiplex’s loss on Wembley “remains dependent on the resolution of subcontractor claims and other third party recoveries.”

Speaking after the Australian construction group’s AGM, McDonald acknowledged that Wembley had been “disastrous” financially for the company. He said that the company’s financiers had approved last week’s settlement with WNSL, believed to involve a £36m additional payment to Multiplex, but said that this would not alter the loss on Wembley reported in the June 2006 accounts.

Losses on the project contributed to a net loss before interest and tax of £130m in the group’s construction division. Across all divisions the group reported a profit after tax of £88m for the year to 30 June 2006.

The contractor said the outlook was positive in its construction business and profitability would return to ‘normal levels’ in the short to medium term.

Meanwhile, chief executive Andrew Roberts said that he expected initial events in preparation for next year’s FA Cup final to “take place by February.” He said: “The FA Cup is a matter for the FA but our expectations are that the stadium will be operating ahead of that.”

Building understands that the deal with WNSL involves working towards practical completion by Christmas.