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Business roundup

Nine firms have signed-up to the Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter. They are Barratt Developments, Berkeley Group, British Land, Imtech UK, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Skanska, Stanford Industrial Concrete Flooring and Stepnell. See article here

EngineeringUK is looking for support for “Tomorrow’s Engineer’s Week” between 3 and 7 November. The aim is to create a buzz around engineering and promote careers to young people. The week was launched by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last year and involved over 70 engineering organisations, 65 events and 200 schools. Visit www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk/TEWeek

The PIP Equity Fund, the first investment fund set up by the UK Pension Infrastructure Platform (PIP), has completed its first investment. According to Dalmore Capital which manages the fund, the PIP has purchased a stake in a holding company for private finance initiative assets from construction company Interserve's pension fund. The portfolio includes interests in education, healthcare, defence and accommodation projects.  The PIP Equity Fund is the first pooled infrastructure fund for pension funds in the UK and is expected to invest at the low-risk end of the infrastructure asset spectrum. Seven institutional investors including the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), British Airways Pensions and the Strathclyde and West Midlands Pension Funds committed £260M to the fund, which will be capped at £500M.

Auditors warn that construction companies and their clients must end the vicious cycle of pricing contracts unrealistically low if the sector is to pull its weight in generating economic growth. These are among the recommendations in Audit Insights: Construction, a report today (Wednesday) from accountancy organisation’s ICAEW. Phil Westerman, a member of the ICAEW working group behind the report and a partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “Construction firms have to bid realistically and responsibly; they need to get the costing of bids for contracts right. To do so, they have to stress test their cost projections and get to know and understand their entire supply chain better. They have to factor in how changes in one end of the supply chain could impact further down.