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Britain ditches plan to outsource military buying

LONDON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Britain has abandoned plans to hand responsibility for its 159 billion pound ($260 billion) military equipment buying programme to a private firm, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said on Tuesday.

The plan hit problems when one of two bidders for the contract pulled out on Nov. 19, leaving only a consortium led by U.S. engineering group Bechtel, and with PA Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers, in the competition.

"We do not have a competitive process. I have therefore concluded that the risks of proceeding with a single bidder are too great to be acceptable," Hammond said, confirming earlier reports of the cancellation.