Australian contractor committed to working in Britain despite taking £147m hit on Wembley

The UK managing director of construction for Multiplex has reaffirmed the Australian developer and contractor’s commitment to the UK, as it announced its full-year results.

Martin Tidd said Multiplex saw the UK as a key component of its global strategy. “We have a £2.8bn pipeline in the UK, which is not insignificant, and the UK is a very sensible counterpoise to what’s happening in the southern hemisphere,” he said.

Last week, Multiplex revealed it had doubled its profit despite suffering a £147m loss on Wembley stadium, which led to the construction division making a £129m loss overall.

The Australian firm reported a global post-tax profit of £87m for the year to 30 June 2006. This figure was boosted by the sale of assets and an increase in value of the company’s property portfolio.

However, the contractor’s well-publicised problems at Wembley led to the group’s construction arm recording a loss of £129m before tax.

As it announced its results, Multiplex also revealed that it had transferred responsibility for construction of the £1.5bn White City shopping centre to joint-venture partner Westfield.

Multiplex UK staff will continue to work on the site, but on secondments to Westfield.

Multiplex has been in a dispute with its partner over the pricing of design variations. These were introduced by Westfield after it took over the scheme from Chelsfield, its previous developer.

Tidd said Multiplex did not expect to incur any further costs on Wembley and was still aiming for completion in June 2007. The company is presently in an adjudication with its client, Wembley National Stadium Ltd.

Tidd added that the contractor, which favours a one-stop-shop approach to projects, would continue to look at joint ventures despite pulling out of White City.

Multiplex’s big UK projects include the £291m Eden shopping centre development in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, a development in Newcastle city centre and an urban regeneration scheme in Cricklewood, north-west London.

Contractor ROK reported its half-year results last week, in which turnover was up 26% on 2005’s interims to £301m. Pre-tax profit rose £700,000 to £6.4m. The order book also increased from £320m to £370m. Chief executive Garvis Snook wants turnover to exceed £1bn by 2011.