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Multiplex faces defeat in High Court battle

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BELEAGURED WEMBLEY stadium contractor Multiplex was yesterday expected to begin 2007 with defeat in its High Court battle with stadium designer Mott MacDonald.

Analysts were predicting that Multiplex would lose its action against Mott MacDonald over 'compliance'.

Multiplex will then meet steelwork subcontractor Cleveland Bridge three times - in midJanuary, early February and early April - to disentangle judgments already handed down.

One of these judgments did go in Multiplex's favour - the company's 'Armageddon Plan' to put Cleveland Bridge out of business was deemed perfectly legal - but this turned out to be a PR own goal.

Multiplex is then set to meet electrical subcontractor Honeywell twice - at the end of January and towards the end of February - to obtain a ruling on a 'time at large' dispute for when electrical systems works should have been completed at the stadium.

The court appearances come after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) rapped the firm in December for posting a projected £35.7M profit from the Wembley project in 2004. That estimate was later revised to break-even.

When Multiplex announced a final recalculation in February 2005, its share price dropped by 14.5% in one day of trading.

The ASIC ruled that Multiplex offer £12.8M to its shareholders in compensation for shares bought ahead of the February recalculation.

Multiplex chairman Allan McDonald said in November that the financial outcome from Wembley was 'disastrous' and that the loss was expected to be about £100M.

There is still no opening date set for Wembley and the 2007 FA Cup Final could yet be held in Cardiff.

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