Marconi wasn't even pretending to put a brave face on it yesterday. Failure to win even so much as a penny's worth of orders from one of the biggest telecommunications contracts ever put out to tender " British Telecom's pounds 10bn Twenty First Century Network Programme " is a bitter blow to the sadly depleted remnants of Lord Weinstock's industrial empire as it struggles to rise from the ashes of insolvency.
To add insult to injury, all eight of the companies selected for this ground breaking investment in cutting edge telecommunications technology are foreign concerns. Marconi, the only UK domiciled player with a snowball in Hades chance of a prime contracting role, has been frozen out.
It is hard to imagine this happening almost anywhere else in the world. In these fast globalising times, BT must place its orders where it can see the best possible commercial advantage. And it is surely the case that if Marconi cannot compete on price, technology and deliverability with the low cost producers of the Far East, then it doesn't matter how many favours it is able to extract from the national incumbent, it will eventually fail anyway.
Yet that is not an argument which would be readily appreciated elsewhere in Europe, where it is a racing certainty that when the telecoms incumbent comes to embark on similar investment, the lion's share will go to the local equipment maker.
BT reasonably points out that most of those selected have manufacturing facilities in Britain and that telecoms equipment is now a truly global industry. Even if work had been awarded to Marconi, as likely as not …