M25 work delayed as service station firm fails

Grant Prior 14 years ago

A £35m improvement scheme on the M25 at Cobham in Surrey is being delayed until a buyer can be found for a failed company planning to build a service station on the site.

The Highways Agency project comprises work at junctions nine and ten, including a new underbridge under the motorway, to make way for a service station that Swayfields planned to build.

Pre-qualification questionnaires were returned in January and five contractors were due to be invited to price the scheme in March.

But Swayfields slumped into administration in March and a source close to the scheme said: “No tenders will be sent out until the HA are satisfied that the new people have the money.”

Lincoln-based Swayfields Limited and Swayfields Extra MSA Holdings Limited operated 11 roadside service areas, including six motorway service areas, two trunk-road service areas and three forecourts.

The group’s portfolio is valued at an estimated £240m but Swayfields struggled to service loans, which were mostly to Lloyds TSB with some additional debts to Deutsche Postbank.

“The group has successfully expanded its operations significantly over recent years but at a group level has struggled to service its increasing debt commitments,” said Ian Green, joint administrator and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

The Enquirer understands that PwC are in negotiations with M3 Capital Partners over a sale but Telereal Trillium and private fund manager Mountgrange are also understood to be interested in a deal.

As Swayfields’ money problems began to grip the roll-out of new service stations stalled but the firm has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names in recent years.

The last major project starts were in 2008, when Carillion began work on a £12m service station at junction two of the M40 in Beaconsfield and Vinci started an £8m development on the A46 at Birstall near Leicester.

In 2007, Vinci built a motorway service area at the junction of the A50 and the A38 in Derby, while Jackson started work on a £750,000 package of groundworks for the Birstall scheme.

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