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Agility eyes $10bn Saudi rail project

Riyadh, December 2, 2007

Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility and a group of Saudi and foreign firms submitted bids for a $10 billion Saudi railway project, the company's chairman said.

Chairman Tarek al-Sultan said the firm had bid in a consortium with US firms KBR Inc, General Electric Co and Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank, Kuwaiti daily Al-Wasat reported, without naming the project.

An award will be made at the start of 2008, the paper said.

Four groups of Saudi and international firms are vying for the contract to build and operate a 1,100 km (683.5 mile) railway crossing the Saudi Arabian desert, after submitting bids in early November, the Saudi Railway Organisation (SRO) said on its Web site.

The so-called Saudi Landbridge project includes a 950 km line between capital Riyadh and the Red Sea port of Jeddah, as well as a 115 km link between the industrial city of Jubail and Dammam, the oil hub on the Gulf coast.

The Landbridge is one of the projects Saudi Arabia is using to tap a regional economic boom -- powered by a quadrupling of oil prices in the past six years -- to develop infrastructure, tourism and industry.

The Saudi Railways Organisation expects the winning bid to be less than $6 billion dollars, Mohammad Afzal Khan, advisor to the organisation's president, told Reuters in October.

Saudi Binladin Group heads a group including Japan's Mitsui & Co, India's Ircon International, Germany's Siemens, Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Bahn, according to the SRO.

Rajhi Investment is heading the group with Mada Company for Industrial & Commercial Investment. Other members include Canada's SNC-Lavalin and Saudi Arabia's Samba Financial Group.

The fourth consortium, led by Saudi family-owned business Al-Muhaidib & Sons, includes South Korea's Samsung Engineering & Construction and French bank BNP Paribas.

The Saudi Landbridge is one of several rail projects the kingdom is planning. Six international groups are expected to submit proposals by January to build a high-speed link between Mecca and Medina, Khan said.

Swiss bank UBS and Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank are advising the Saudi Railways Organisation on this project and the Landbridge. The Public Investment Fund is overseeing the construction of a 2,400 km north-south freight railway. - Reuters




Tags: Agility | Landbridge |

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