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LONDON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Senior British ministers held crisis talks this week to discuss the fate of key infrastructure partner Carillion, as fears grow at the highest levels of government that the debt-laden group could collapse.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the government was monitoring the situation closely and making contingency plans after the construction and services group asked creditors for more time to tackle its debts.
The 200-year-old group is fighting to survive after costly contract delays and a downturn in new business prompted a string of profit warnings and a first-half loss of more than 1 billion pounds.
Carillion builds hospitals, roads and rail lines and provides services to government departments including justice, health and education. It has debt and liabilities including provisions, pensions and accounts payable of as much as 1.5 billion pounds, according to analysts.
Its market value stood at 86 million pounds on Friday.
"We are monitoring this situation closely and will continue to do so," the spokesman told reporters at a daily briefing.
Asked if the government was making contingency plans to take over Carillion's public sector contracts should that be required, he replied: "Of course the government will make contingency plans for many different situations, as you'd expect. Ministers did meet yesterday. There are ongoing meetings on this."
(Reporting by David Milliken; writing by Kate Holton; editing by Paul Sandle)