SAUDI ARABIA: The Tarabot consortium was named as preferred bidder for the US$5bn Saudi Landbridge project on April 21. The consortium expects to reach financial close within 12 months, and construction will begin shortly afterward.

Saudi Landbridge railway mapTarabot comprises seven Saudi Arabian partners and Australian group Asciano, which owns rail operator Pacific National and ports company Patrick. The other shortlisted bidders were the Agility PWC Logistics consortium, Mada and Saudi Binladen (RG 7.06 p373).

The project is structured as a 50-year build, own, operate and transfer concession. Tarabot will own 80% of the concession company, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holding the remaining 20%.

The existing rail network between Dammam and Riyadh will be upgraded, and a 945 km line constructed between the capital and Jeddah. The main traffic will be containerised and bulk freight.

'The project is extremely attractive to Asciano', said Managing Director Mark Rowsthorn. 'It will deliver high returns from a growing freight market with limited capital investment required by Asciano. Our partners include high profile Saudi and international investors that are highly respected in the region.'

Asciano expects to hold a 5% equity stake in Tarabot, and will be a significant shareholder in the operations and maintenance subcontractor. Pacific National will provide services including the secondment of staff.

The Tarabot consortium

Adbulaziz Alsaghyir Commercial Investment Co
Abdullatif & Mohammed Al-Fozan Development Co
Abdul Kadir Al Muhaidib & Sons
Omran M Al Omran & Partners Co Ltd
Mohamed & AbdullahI Al-Subeaei
HH Prince Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer Al Saud
Arabian Company for Water & Power Development
Pacific National
Orascom Construction Industries
Obrascon Huarte Lain
Allen & Overy LLP
White & Case
Ove Arup & Partners Limited
Petrocon Arabia Ltd
BNP Paribas