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Big UK government contractor sees shares plunge on debt woes

14 January 2018

The company was once valued above £2 billion but is now fighting net debts of more than £900 million, following a crisis sparked in July past year when it issued a profit warning, suspended its dividend, and said key contracts were not losing money as debt rose.

Carillion, one of the UK's largest construction companies, is on the brink of collapse - but what does it do?

Administrator firms PwC and EY were also reported to have been put on standby as talks about the firm's future carry on.

Carillion is a major supplier to the Government and key contractor in the first phase of building the £56 billion HS2 rail line, but has seen its share price plunge almost 80% in the past six months after making a string of profit warnings and breaching its financial covenants. It employs 43,000 people globally.

Bosses at Carillion have appealed for a state-backed rescue, telling ministers that its survival rests on a bail-out of the firm's most troubled contracts.

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Last month, Carillion said it received all necessary consents to defer the test date for both its financial covenants from December 31 to April 30, 2018, and that it was continuing constructive talks with stakeholders on options for cutting net debt and recapitalizing.

A Government spokeswoman said on Friday: "Carillion is a major supplier to the Government, with a number of long-term contracts".

However, no announcement has been made on a business plan to secure its future.

It is also one of the biggest suppliers of maintenance services to Network Rail and manages schools, roads and prisons.

The reported that David Lidington, who was moved to the Cabinet Office as part of Prime Minister Theresa May's reshuffle this week, convened the meeting with Business Secretary Greg Clark, new Justice Minister Rory Stewart, new Transport Minister Jo Johnson and Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

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The Government is notoriously slow at settling bills with contractors, and frequent delays have exacerbated Carillion's cash crunch.

"We are committed to maintaining a healthy supplier market and work closely with our key suppliers".

Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary, said Carillion's workforce was being "held hostage by the whims of the market".

Last week, the company was dealt a fresh blow when the City watchdog launched a probe into the "timeliness and content" of statements it made to the‎ stock market about is financial position between December 2016 and July a year ago, when a massive profit warning sent its shares crashing by 75%.

Shares, down 90 pct since co's first profit warning in July, fall as low as 12.5 pence around noon in London.

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"We will not comment further unless it becomes appropriate to do so".

Big UK government contractor sees shares plunge on debt woes