Corporate giants jockey to form alliances for high-speed rail bid

Corporate August 08, 2018 01:00

By   THE NATION

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SOME of the country’s biggest companies are manoeuvring to team up for joint bids on a proposed high-speed train project linking three international airports.



The corporate alliance building comes as BTS Group Holdings Plc (BTS) indicates it will finalise a deal involving partners this month or the next. The rail operator said it is in discussions with Canadian train signalling system expert Bombardier on a mass rapid transit operating system.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, a BTS director, said that the company has been studying the terms of reference for the high-speed train project that will connect Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports.

BTS has been in discussions with other private enterprises to partner with them for the project development on expectation to finalise the decision within two months.

BSR Joint Venture, a joint venture between BTS, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc, will bid for the project.

BTS has also discussed with PTT Plc and several foreign companies including Bombardier Transportation, the rail equipment division of the Canadian firm Bombardier Inc, their involvement in a possible partnership.

"Now, we've talked to many companies and PTT and several contractors,” Surapong said.

“This mega-project requires large construction works and we have to share out the work. Sino-Thai is still the main name for construction of this project, while Bombardier will quote a price for the rail system. If we win this bid, Bombardier will be one of our choices to do the rail system for us.”

Keeree Kanjanapas, chairman of Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc – the operator of Bangkok Mass Transit System also known as BTS - said that the company is ready to bid under the BSR Joint Venture, while the company has been in discussions with other companies, including PTT and some from elsewhere in Asia and Europe.“ We have had discussions with CP Group (Charoen Pokphand Group). If necessary and if it is beneficial to the country, we can join hand with them. BTS does not prevent anyone from participating; we are ready to join with everyone,” Keeree said.

“If CP Group finally wins this project, BTS may join in for some part of it as we have expertise in the sector. Or if BTS wins the project, it's possible for CP Group to help us.”

Gregory Enjalbert, vice president of Rail Control Solutions Asia Pacific and managing director for Thailand at Bombardier Transportation, said that the company is greatly interested in joining in with the investment in the high-speed train project. The company is keen to bring Bombardier’s technology to the country, he said. The company has previously joined in with others in the development of high-speed trains in China and Italy.

Paul-Emile Degroote, executive of Paris-based bus and train operator Transdev Group, said that the company and SNCF International will join with Thai partners for a bid and that discussions have been under way.

Prachai Leophai-ratana, chief executive officer of TPI Polene Plc, said that the company is ready to be a core player in a bid for the project and has held talks with several private partners that excel in electric train system and car trains from Japan, Germany, France, China and Thailand.

“We are ready on the financing side and can invest by ourselves,” Prachai said.

“TPI would be the main partner, holding at least 25 per cent of the group. We would do the civil works as we have a lot of partners in construction, while the train operating task must be handed over to a foreign partner. We expect to finalise the group of partners after August.”

Premchai Karnasuta, executive chairman of Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD), said that the company has been in discussions with both Thai and foreign partners, targeting the project's civil works, and expects to conclude the deal this month.

A representative of Charoen Pokphand Holding Co Ltd said that the company is seeking partners that excel in all aspects, and has been in talks with foreign companies.

Some 15 Thai companies and 16 foreign enterprises purchased the bidding document for the high-speed train project.

 They include BTS, Charoen Pokphand Holding, ITD, Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc, TPI Polene, Central Pattana Plc, Japan-based Itochu Corporation, France-based Transdev Group, France-based SNCF International, Italy-based Salini Impregio SpA, Korea-Thai High-Speed Rail Road Consortium and China Railway Construction Corporation.

The list of partners under each proposed joint venture will be made public on November 13 and the winner will be announced in January.