Construction giant Laing O'Rourke is one of the final two competitors for a lucrative £350m contract for the building and regeneration of schools in east London. The company is understood to have submitted pre-qualification questionnaires for the Barking and Dagenham scheme which plans the building or refurbishment of up to nine schools. The only other company in the running is believed to be French firm Bouygues Construction. However, the Irish company may be on the back foot: some companies are thought to have pulled out of the scheme due to Bouygues' strong ties has in the area.