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Little interest in declining Cleveland

CONTINUING LOSSES at steelwork contractor Kvaerner Cleveland Bridge are seriously hindering its saleability, construction analysts warned this week.

The company was put on the market by parent Kvaerner five months ago but has attracted little outside interest with a management buyout the only firm offer.

A second quarter operating loss of £5M - bringing the company's total half-year losses to over £11M - comes in the wake of 90 more redundancies announced a week ago at its Darlington headquarters.

'Several contracts are coming to an end and our order book remains very depressed,' said managing director Nick Hobson. 'We must pull in considerably more work before the end of the year in an effort to return to profitability.'

A month ago, Cleveland unexpectedly lost a £75M contract for Bangladesh's Bhairab suspension bridge. The job went to Nuttall instead.

The redundancies add to the 180 employees already sacked since Kvaerner announced a major restructuring of the company last February. This saw Cleveland Bridge, along with other loss making and non core businesses, put up for sale.

About two thirds of the latest redundancies will be 'administrative' staff, and the remainder from the fabrication yard.

An eight-strong management buy out team, led by marketing director Tony Rae, is still considered favourite to buy the company. A group spokesman said this week that talks were continuing with several other companies.

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