Banknote contract 'could go abroad'

Five and ten pound notesAn overseas company could seize control of the country's banknote production under a new £1 billion Bank of England contract.

Official tender documents for the 14-year deal to print all the Bank's notes have been sent to interested bidders and could end Basingstoke-based De La Rue's involvement since 2003.

Landqart, the banknote division of Fortress Paper, the Canadian wallpaper and pulp company, and Note Printing Australia, a division of the Reserve Bank of Australia, are interested bidders, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

But a De La Rue spokesman said the group was keen to win the new tender and it had a good relationship with the Bank.

He said: "We currently are a UK manufacturing operation and we want to retain business in the UK and we are very keen to win the tender."

The new contract is due to start in April 2015, with the winning bidder responsible for printing more than 12 billion banknotes until 2029.

It is only the second time the Bank of England has placed printing of the country's banknotes out to tender since it outsourced production in 2003.

Although foreign businesses can apply for the contract, production of the banknotes must take place at the Bank's former facility in Debden in Essex. De La Rue, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, acquired the secure printing press when it won the deal in 2003.

The new contract tender comes after a challenging two years for De La Rue, which lost a major contract with the Reserve Bank of India, worth up to 25% of its profits.

But De La Rue, which also produces security documents including passports, driving licences, authentication labels and tax stamps, recently reported a jump in revenues.
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