Mace takes embassies job

CONTRACTS OVERSEAS

MACE is packing its bags and preparing for a trip around the world after grabbing a £200 million deal to build embassies for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The contract includes work on embassies, consulates, residences and offices. Much of the work will be carried out across Asia and eastern Europe.

Visa offices have also been planned in Asia, mainly in China and India, to cope with increasing demand.

Balfour Beatty, Bovis Lend Lease and Laing O'Rourke had also been in the running but have all had their passports revoked.

Mace has been selected as the preferred partner but an official announcement is being delayed until October, when negotiations between the firm and the FCO will be wrapped up.

Bids for the work were returned in May and the list was cut down to two.

But even though the two losing firms were told they had been cut, the remaining pair were not told until the last minute which one had won the deal.

Bovis Lend Lease was one of the two to leave the process, although it said it withdrew for commercial reasons. The other firm not to make the cut is being kept secret.

The FCO has taken several months to choose the winner, with one insider admitting the competition had been a close-run thing. The source joked that even the bidders' teaboys were being asked about the partnering contracts.

The FCO, which has let 130 contracts in the last five years, has an estate portfolio worth £1 billion spread across 150 countries.

The deal is worth an average £50 million per year and will last for at least three years, with a possible one year extension.

n The FCO has chosen Sir Robert McAlpine to build a £16 million information and technology centre in Buckinghamshire. The firm is waiting for a letter of intent but the FCO confirmed that it would be working with them.

Work on the complex in Milton Keynes is due to start later this year. The FCO's 330 technology staff are expected to move into the new building at Hanslope Park in summer 2007.

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