Carillion plunges on reports lenders have rejected its debt restructuring plan

Reuters

Reuters

It reported revenues of more than £5bn in 2016, and is one of the largest construction service multinationals in the UK.

EY, the accountancy firm, had been placed on standby to act as administrator to Carillion.

It comes as the Government, pension authorities and stakeholders met on Friday in an attempt to thrash out a rescue package for the firm which would help it avoid collapse.

Unions have urged Westminster to step in to protect 19,500 jobs that are now at risk, with Unite insisting "all possible options" must be considered - including bringing contracts in-house.

Carillion's major projects have included "the doughnut" - the iconic circular office building of the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) - completed in 2003.

Scottish Labour's shadow economy secretary Jackie Baillie called on the Scottish Government to clarify the potential impact if Carillion collapses.

"The Government can't just do a financial bailout".

Carillion has a pension deficit of roughly £580m, although this figure would be expected to rise sharply if measured according to the cost of insuring its various retirement schemes on a full buyout basis.

Sir Vince, a former business secretary, told BBC Breakfast: "They've got to force the shareholders and indeed the creditors, the big banks, to take losses, and then the government can take responsibility for taking the contracts forward and making sure they are delivered".

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It is also the second largest supplier of maintenance services to Network Rail.

Adding to the pressure on the small cap firm - which issued three profit warnings in less than six months previous year and has seen its market value collapse by 90% - was a recommendation from broker Peel Hunt to sell the stock ahead of forthcoming newsflow.

The rescue plan shown to lenders on Wednesday includes handing back some loss-making contracts, revising the terms of others and potentially accepting financial support from the Government if it can not secure it from private sector sources.

He said it was a "pretty messy situation", adding: "The situation is pretty bleak".

It has worked on key projects including the Royal Opera House in London, the Suez Canal road tunnel and Toronto's Union Station. The long-awaited route is due to be finished this year following lengthy delays.

"As Carillion is a major supplier to government, it should come as no surprise that we are carefully monitoring the situation while working to ensure our contingency plans are robust".

A TPR spokesperson said: "We have been and remain closely involved in discussions with Carillion and the trustees of the pension schemes as this situation has unfolded".

Carillion said "constructive discussions with a range of financial and other stakeholders" were continuing.

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