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White knight rides to rescue of Westpile name

NEWS -

FOUNDATION CONTRACTOR Westpile looks set live on - at least in name. Bachy Soletanche last month bought eight of its piling rigs and the right to use the Westpile name.

Westpile's parent company Interserve decided to close down the contractor at the end of November, citing overcapacity in the 'highly cyclical' foundation market (GE January 04).

Bachy has already created a subsidiary, initially called WPile, which will based close to Westpile's offices in Middlesex and focus on the housing sector's lucrative CFA market in southern England.

Bachy managing director Martin Pratt said: 'We have been keen to expand into smaller diameter CFA piling and to further develop our regional coverage in the south.

'We regard this as an excellent deal and intend to offer Westpile's faithful and considerable client base the high level of service it has been accustomed to.'

Included in the £1.4M acquisition are seven dedicated or dualuse Soilmec CFA rigs offering low headroom capability and pile diameters up to 1,200mm.

The company has also employed several of Westpile's key staff, who are experienced in CFA and bored piling, from the 140-strong workforce who will be made redundant by the closure.

About 30 more have been temporarily kept on by Westpile to complete its contracts, with most ofthe remainder either absorbed into Interserve or already redeployed in the industry.

Bachy Soletanche hopes the new subsidiary will achieve up to £6M turnover in its first year, rising to £12M by 2007.

Former Westpile managing director Steve Mallion confirmed he had had 'serious talks' with several firms to buy the entire company.

'We were not expecting to sell it outright. The company's driven piling rigs have also now been sold (see box) and there is active interest in the precast factory at Hoveringham.'

After 30 years with Westpile, Mallion is now a main board director at Interserve Industrial Services. 'I am delighted the Westpile name will live on, ' he said.

The new subsidiary has already won its first CFA contract, piling on a retail development in Canterbury, Kent.

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