| LONDON, April 9
LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) -
The bidders who lost out on Britain's $12 billion contract to
decommission nuclear sites have asked the government to explain
the result as they decide whether to launch legal action,
sources familiar with the matter said.
Last month, shares in engineering contractor Babcock jumped
7 percent in one day after the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
(NDA) awarded it and U.S. group Fluor preferred bidder status
for what is one of the largest British government contracts ever
put out to tender.
On the losing side was incumbent EnergySolutions which had
teamed up with U.S. engineer Bechtel, a second consortium made
up of Serco, Areva and CH2M Hill, and a third
consisting of Amec, Atkins and Rolls-Royce
The sources said at least two of the consortia had now sent
letters to the government requesting clarification on how it had
picked the winning bidder due to concerns over the scoring
process. The third is reviewing its options.
"There's a lot of dissatisfaction about the process," one
source said. Decisions over whether to launch legal action could
come within the next week, a second source said.
The three consortia declined to comment. The NDA said such
information was currently commercially confidential and that the
competition process was in a period during which unsuccessful
bidders could request further information to understand the
basis of the decision.
"The competition process was run in strict accordance with
UK and EU procurement regulations," it added.
The sources said any launch of legal action could delay the
formal awarding of the contract to Babcock and Fluor, or trigger
a re-scoring of the bids which could overturn the decision. It
could also force the reopening of the competition, they said.
The contract covers 12 of Britain's 25 nuclear sites and
should bring a saving of at least 1 billion pounds from the
previous contract, handled by EnergySolutions for the past 14
Numis analysts estimated that the deal would be worth more
than 170 million pounds a year to Babcock, representing 4
percent of group revenue after adding sales from the soon to be
acquired helicopter transport services firm Avincis.
Cavendish Fluor, the joint venture between Babcock-owned
subsidiary Cavendish Nuclear and Fluor, will be formally awarded
the contract - pending legal approval - on Sept. 1.
Britain has acted to outsource large swathes of its public
sector services over the last 30 years, a practice which has
been heavily criticised in recent months after contractors such
as G4S and Serco were found to have overcharged the
government on contracts.
In 2012, FirstGroup won a 13-year deal to manage the
rail network linking London to Scotland, only for Virgin Trains
to challenge the decision and eventually prompt an embarrasing
($1 = 0.5970 British Pounds)
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)