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Clarke vows to fight on following arbiter's criticism


ATKINS HAS said that will not run away from its role in Tube contractor Metronet, despite the venture costing the firm £1.4M in profit.

Chief executive Keith Clarke insisted that the firm's principal objective with Metronet was to enter into the next review period successfully with London Underground.

Clarke said he was 'totally happy' that all Metronet's shareholders were supportive of the management team, which includes him as chairman.

He was speaking after Atkins' interim results for the six months to 30 September showed profit before tax overall up 10% on the same period last year to £30.9M. Revenue was also up 17% to £605.5M.

But the results also showed that continued problems with Metronet contributed to a £1.4M reduction in profit before tax compared with the same period last year.

The results announcement came a week after Tube PPP arbiter Chris Bolt cited a catalogue of failings within Metronet that have resulted in it spending four times more than planned on station upgrades (News last week).

Bolt made it clear that management failings at the highest level are the main cause and suggested that the consortium be led by an individual independent of the shareholders.

However, Clarke said that improvements made over the past 12 months would begin to reap dividends.

'Whether we like it or not, turning around something the size of Metronet takes a long time.

'The arbiter's report was expected. But we are not running from the problems or giving up and saying it is all too diffi cult. We are putting the best people in - the chief executive even.

'The effort is not inconsiderable, but is what we think appropriate for a major client, for our shareholders and for where we are taking Atkins, ' he said.

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