Somkid affirms Beijing's commitment to airport link

Somkid affirms Beijing's commitment to airport link

Somkid: Competition for bidding to be fair
Somkid: Competition for bidding to be fair

China has reaffirmed its intention to join the upcoming auction of the 224.54-billion-baht high-speed railway linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports.

Ning Jizhe, vice-chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, met Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Thursday to reiterate China's commitment to participating in the auction, which is expected to be called later this year.

Mr Somkid said the government also pledged to ensure fair competition among participating bidders, as many companies have shown interest in joining the auction.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana recently said five giant bidders were expected to join the upcoming auction.

But he declined to disclose the company's names, saying only that the project has been in the crosshairs of several local and foreign investors.

These are likely to include BSR Joint Venture, a consortium of BTS Group Holdings Plc (75%), Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc (15%) and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc (10%).

PTT Group and Charoen Pokphand Group have also expressed their intention to join the auction and seek investment partners, along with firms from Japan and China.

The high-speed railway linking the three airports is part of the government's much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme, which will be conducted under a public-private partnership model.

The 2018 EEC Act also allows foreign investors to own up to a 51% stake, compared with the normal investment law capping their share at 49%.

The EEC Office has already unveiled the terms of reference for interested bidders and announced bidder qualifications and conditions.

Bidding papers will be on offer by the middle of this month.

All bidders have roughly four months to prepare their documents, while the EEC Office will team up with other government agencies and the Industry and Transport ministries to handle the auction.

That process will include running two meeting rounds, opening a Q&A session and making a site visit.

The bidders must submit their papers on Nov 12, and the related auction committee plans to announce a winner in late 2018.

Mr Somkid said Mr Jizhe also conveyed Chinese government support for EEC development, which covers not only the high-speed rail project, but also all infrastructure projects and industrial development.

Mr Somkid also called on China to invest in the second phase of the double-track rail project for Jira-Khon Kaen-Nong Khai, which links to the EEC.

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