STEEL FABRICATOR Cleveland Bridge has brought in a Saudi backer to help finance bids for four major bridges in the US.
Financial muscle for these bids - which require 100% insurance bonds - will come from the Saudi based Al Rushaid group, which has acquired a 50% stake in Cleveland Bridge.
News of the Saudi tie up comes just three months after Cleveland Bridge management bought the firm from Kvaerner.
Cleveland recently won the $167M Carquinez bridge in San Francisco, California. The Darlington based bridge builder is now bidding for a further four big US jobs.
These include a new suspension bridge at Cooper River, South Carolina and an additional suspension bridge at the infamous Tacoma Narrows in Washington State as well as the East Bay bridge replacement in San Francisco.
'I expect 50% of our turnover will be in the US by 2003, ' said Cleveland chief executive Tony Rae. US 'buy American' regulations will be met by setting up a fabrication workshop in San Francisco.
Rae said the Saudi deal was in the pipeline during the ú20M buyout.
'It's no secret, ' he said, 'but they are separate deals. Al Rushaid approached us'.
As well as selling its bridge expertise in the US - where the Carquinez is the first suspension bridge for 40 years, Cleveland is bidding for four major bridges in China.
Financial backing from the Al Rushaid group, which manufactures oil and gas equipment, will also be used to set up a new Saudi fabrication plant.