British agency De La Rue to problem government over blue passport contract snub

LONDON (Reuters) – British producer De La Rue Plc (DLAR.L) mentioned it should problem a choice by Britain to award a contract to print the post-Brexit blue passports to a European company.

A handout reveals the unique ‘blue’ British passport, which was subsequently changed by the burgundy EU British passport, equipped by the UK government in London, Britain, March 22, 2018. UK Government/Handout through Reuters

The new blue British passports have been hailed by Prime Minister Theresa May as “an expression of our independence and sovereignty”, however shall be made by a Franco-Dutch agency after Britain leaves the European Union, De La Rue mentioned.

Media reviews mentioned the agency was Gemalto (GTO.AS), though it has not confirmed or denied these reviews. Gemalto produces British driver’s licenses.

De La Rue, which makes banknotes and passports, mentioned it might search a judicial overview of the provisional determination to award the British passport contract to an abroad company after it was undercut.

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“Based on our knowledge of the market, it’s our view that ours was the highest quality and technically most secure bid,” a De La Rue spokeswoman mentioned in an announcement, including that although its tender represented a major low cost on the present worth, it accepted that it wasn’t the most affordable.

The determination to provide the passport overseas made embarrassing headlines for May, who introduced in December that Britain would swap again to the darkish blue it had used for many years.

A Daily Mail newspaper petition to have the brand new passports made by a British company has greater than 265,000 signatures.

Britain’s present burgundy passports have been launched in 1988, following EU suggestions. But the EU doesn’t require the color scheme and Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, retained its blue passport with no plans to alter it.

Britain’s inside ministry defended its determination to not award De La Rue the contract, saying the popular bidder was chosen “following a rigorous, fair and open competition.”

Britain’s largest commerce union Unite hit out on the government’s selection and mentioned the French government would by no means have made such a transfer.

De La Rue’s present contract, which ends in July 2019, is price 400 million kilos. The new contract will begin in October 2019, after Britain leaves the EU in March.

Shares in De La Rue have been little modified on Tuesday, having fallen 6 % when it mentioned it had lost the contract in March.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; modifying by Guy Faulconbridge

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