Wembley builder in third profits warning

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The Independent Online

Multiplex, the Australian construction company building Wembley Stadium, issued its third profits warning in less than 12 months yesterday, conceding that losses from the London project were continuing to rise.

In a trading statement to the Australian market yesterday morning, the company said only that it expected the Wembley project to drive profits lower than forecast in 2006. But hours later, it returned to the market saying the fall was likely to be about A$165m (£70m) - or 77 per cent. It is believed the Australian Stock Exchange forced the group to issue a second update.

Although the company said a detailed review of its Wembley project had concluded its final loss was still subject to "considerable variability", it conceded it would now be "substantially adverse" from estimates given at the last set of results. The company insisted the project would be finished in time for the FA Cup Final in May and that parts of the stadium would be handed over by 31 January. It also said it would provide the market with a better estimate of the project's losses within the next few weeks.

The shares plummeted 12 per cent before closing down 8.4 per cent at A$3.16. Its stock has fallen by more than one-third in the past year.

Multiplex also announced the disposal of several rights and interests, including those relating to the modernisation of Stratford in east London before the 2012 Olympic Games. It said it had retained the right to participate in the Stratford project later.

The latest profits warning came weeks after the group said it was happy with profit forecasts for the year to the end of June. It conceded at the time that Wembley could prove more expensive than first thought.

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