De La Rue drops blue British passport bid, says profit hit

Henrietta Brewer
April 19, 2018

British printing company De La Rue has abandoned its plans to fight the Government in court over the loss of a £490m contract to print United Kingdom passports, calling it the "sensible and pragmatic" thing to do.

The investor added that De La Rue urgently needed to work on its "messaging to the City", as two recent profit warnings, the departure of the finance director and a recoil on its promise to battle the government over new passport contracts have left a poor impression.

"For the last decade De La Rue has produced the UK's passports securely without any problems and provided a source of decent well-paid jobs in the north east".

The existing contract to make British passports is worth 400 million pounds and the new contract starts in October 2019, after Britain leaves the European Union in March that year.

De La Rue said it made the decision not to appeal following legal advice, concluding it was "not in the best interests of the company".


The government's decision to award the €560m contract to the Franco-Dutch company was made under current European Union tender rules.

'Following four weeks of intense consideration and clear legal advice, we have taken the decision not to challenge the award of the United Kingdom passport contract.

But he told the BBC's Today programme that the firm had now reconsidered.

The government then granted a two-week extension in a process to decide who would make United Kingdom passports after Brexit.

"Following four weeks of intense consideration and clear legal advice, we have taken the decision not to challenge the award of the United Kingdom passport contract".


A spokesman said: 'As we initially announced, we have looked at all possible avenues open to us, and thoroughly evaluated all our options.

De La Rue has held the contract to manufacture British passports since 2009.

Shares in Basingstoke-based De La Rue fell as much as 8% after the announcement and details of the profit blow.

He added: "We remain both surprised and disappointed by the decision of HMPO to award the contract to a competitor".

De La Rue also confirmed that its full-year earnings would be hit by a write-off of about £4 million related to the bid costs for the passport tender.


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