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Lifschutz Davidson's Legacy back in frame for the Dome

Lifschutz Davidson's £155 million Legacy bid to redevelop the Millennium Dome as a hi-tech business park looked to be back on the table as the AJ went to press after Japanese bank Nomura 'reluctantly' withdrew from the deal to buy the beleaguered attraction.

Sources close to Nomura told the AJ this week that they suspected Nomura International managing director Guy Hands might simply be using a 'negotiating ploy' to persuade the government to underwrite any potential problems caused by designers owed money or any outstanding intellectual property issues.

But Patrick Davies, who was set to masterplan and design an estimated £100 million worth of buildings for the Japanese, said it was not a ploy. 'We're a bit disappointed and a bit hurt and want to express our deepest regrets on behalf of Nomura, ' he said.

The news represents a huge loss of work and fees for Davies' practice, which was in line to design three hotels, a conference centre, offices, flats and retail on the Greenwich peninsula as part of the bid. Nomura was to have pumped in about £800 million on new attractions and buildings outside the Dome using Benoy, SMC Group, Fitch and Conran and Partners as well as Davies.

Dome Europe, the Nomura consortium which was awarded preferred bidder status in July ahead of Legacy even though it offered £50 million less, said it could not proceed because information it was provided with 'revealed substantial uncertainty with regard to the ability of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) to transfer the Dome assets on a timely basis'.

Hands was angry that he was not permitted to see a crucially important financial report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on the future liabilities of the Dome, although it is understood he has talked to a PWC partner on the issue.

Nomura was also critical that NMEC has not even established what assets it owns and has a muddied understanding about the intellectual property situation. And the Japanese bank also feels that rights under the construction contracts relating to the structure of the building may be 'unenforceable' due to a lack of compliance by NMEC with repair and maintenance procedures.

The government signalled it would be exploring the Robert Bourne-backed Legacy proposals instead- favoured by Greenwich Council- 'with a view to further detailed discussions'. But English Partnerships will also 'review options'.

A Nomura spokesman said it has spent £10 million on its involvement in the bid.

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