Category Archives: Business

Jacobs Engineering to acquire Sinclair Knight Merz

jacobs skm world infrastructure news

News has just broken of a proposed merger between California-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc and Australian consultancy, Sinclair Knight Merz. The merger is to be effected by Jacobs acquiring SKM to the tune of approximately $1.2bn in cash.

Although the merger is still subject to acceptance by SKM’s shareholders, the company’s Board of Directors has unanimously recommended they vote in favour.

In a press release issued today by SKM, its CEO and managing director, Santo Rizzuto welcomed the announcement, saying, “This is an exciting opportunity. It uniquely positions us amongst our global peers and opens the way for us to achieve even greater things in the future. It adds scale, diversification and growth opportunities to our business.”

In the same press release, Jacob’s president and CEO, Craig Martin, states that the combination is a unique fit that strongly delivers on the company’s strategic ambitions, adding that SKM’s culture, values and operating philosophy were very compatible with theirs.

Martin concluded, “Our capabilities and geographies have little overlap, enabling us together to continue to expand our client relationships and provide significant opportunities for our employees. We are enthusiastic about the potential.”

If the merger goes ahead as anticipated, it will be the seventh acquisition by Jacobs in the last three years. The company has been seeking to expand in the oil, gas and chemicals sectors and the proposed merger with SKM could help them to achieve this. SKM has operations in Australia, Asia, South America and Britain, consulting for clients in sectors including energy, power, mining and metals.


Written By admin 
September 10, 2013 16:24 pm
Posted In Business, ENERGY

What makes good infrastructure? A financier’s perspective…

As we all know, creating successful infrastructure that fulfils its purpose is a multi-faceted affair. It takes political and social will coupled with expertise from the developers, designers, engineers and contractors to plan and build effectively. But before the first foundation stone is even loaded onto the lorry, someone has to foot the bill. We spoke to Brian Field, Urban Planning and Development Adviser of the European Investment Bank and one of the WIN Awards judges, to get his personal take on what turns the financiers onto – or off – a potential project…

Field’s answer to that first question is a straightforward one. “Investors and financiers are clearly looking for an adequate rate of return, although what this actually means will depend on the nature and substance of the project in question.”

It stands to reason that all the stakeholders involved want to see the project succeed. While the civil engineers might lose sleep at night over tangibles such as materials turning out to be unsuitable, or unforeseen geological issues, we asked what might keep a financier awake in the small hours. Field replies, “Once a project is underway, from a financial perspective the key issues are whether it will be delivered on time and on budget and, more generally, whether it will deliver on its promises.”

He is a believer that “best practice in infrastructure design and delivery can only benefit our industry”, so what – to him – marks out a truly successful infrastructure project? “For me, a successful infrastructure project is one that does indeed deliver on its promises, but also benefits the community at large.  It needs to meet basic financial sustainability criteria, including adequate cost coverage for the developer/promoter at the required level of service, including the ability to repay the providers of funds, affordable rents and charges for those using the service where these apply, and value for money for the tax payer.

“However, in satisfying such requirements, it should also meet basic social and environmental sustainability criteria by addressing or mitigating the impact of its development on the natural environment.  It sounds like a tall order, but there needs to be a balance.”

Bridging the blue Danube at Bratislava

When asked what excites him most about a quality infrastructure project, Field comments, “The role of major infrastructure projects as “agents of change” cannot and should not be underestimated.  For me a “quality” infrastructure project is one that is a positive agent for such change. A good example that I think has made a real difference is the Apollo Bridge in Bratislava, Slovakia, a project in which I was involved.

“The bridge itself was planned many years ago and was an aspiration of the municipal authorities even in the Soviet era – as reflected in spatial plans dating back more than 60 years.  The original intention was improve the link between the central area of Bratislava and what was originally developed as a dormitory settlement with large panel-block apartment buildings on the other side of the Danube in Petrzalka.  In the event, the building of the bridge has delivered on all of its promises and more.  It has not only addressed the perceived problems of separation of Petrzalka from the central area of the city, but has also facilitated the regeneration of Petrzalka itself as a thriving district within the broader Bratislava conurbation.”

Completed in 2005 by Metro Bratislava, the bridge is not only remarkable for the regeneration it has brought with it. In an extraordinary feat of engineering, the 5,240-ton steel structure, spanning 231 metres, was rotated across the river from its construction site on the left bank into its final position on a pillar 40 metres from the right bank. The Apollo Bridge was the only European project to be selected as one of the five finalists for the 2006 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award (OPAL Award) by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Having established what ticks the boxes for him in terms of infrastructure, Field goes on to explain what he sees as some of the most typical stumbling blocks for new projects. “In conception, infrastructure projects, and particularly large ones, often come with significant political risks that can be a serious pitfall. There are also social and environmental risks that are an increasing focus of public concern and can prevent projects taking off. Meanwhile, once a project is accepted in principle, then funding and procurement can be a problem, a problem often exacerbated by the size of the project in question.  Construction risk comes into play once project implementation is underway and can, once again, be significant.”

Getting infrastructure off the ground in Europe

To help address the funding issues touched on by Field, in collaboration with the European Union and other partners, The European Investment Bank (EIB) currently offers a number of initiatives to offer advice and financial help to EU member states. We asked Field to give examples of where this support has proved to be of significant importance.

Starting with JASPERS (Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions) – created specifically to boost infrastructure in the 12 new member states joining in 2004 and 2007 – he cites the Sofia Metro in Bulgaria as an excellent example of how such support has played a key role in moving forward the construction of an urgently needed mass transportation system. Although planned as far back as the 1960s, work on the city’s new rapid transit network kept stalling. Problems encountered included the unearthing of major Thracian and Roman archaeological finds, the city’s homeless taking shelter in the half-finished tunnels, and a crucial lack of funding.

Enter JASPERS to the rescue with the technical advice that helped the project win the vital EU funding that eventually enabled work to start in earnest in 1998. So far two lines – M1 Red and M2 Blue – have been completed and a third line, the M3 Green, is in the early planning stages. The project design contract has been awarded to the Czech company, Metroprojekt Praha.

Another EIB product is JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas). Field explains, “JESSICA was not initially conceived as an infrastructure funding vehicle, but was designed to facilitate urban regeneration and renewal which had otherwise been prevented or stalled by market failure and/or imperfections; such projects are frequently multi-sector and can be quite complex.  In any event, a recently launched JESSICA operation in Sopot, Poland to develop a new railway station and regenerate the built environment in the station’s immediate vicinity – including development of commercial buildings, a hotel, and parking areas – is a good example of where a relatively modest financial injection can make a significant difference in kick-starting an operation.”

The EPEC (European PPP Expertise Centre) focuses its activities not on projects per se, but on the provision of advisory services that help to create structures to facilitate delivery of robust PPPs. Field tells us, “To this end EPEC has been very active in Greece and Ireland, and is currently very busy in Romania.”

Field goes on to talk about the LGTT (Loan Guarantee Instrument for Trans-European Transport Network Projects) scheme, “An excellent example of where exploitation of the loan guarantee scheme has facilitated the development of a large scale infrastructure project is the Bordeaux-to-Tours link of the LGV Sud Europe Atlantique high speed railway line, which brings high speed rail services to south-western France.”

Overall investment on the new link totals 7.8 million euros, of which 1.2 billion has come from the EIB via LGTT financial instrument. The project got the go ahead in June 2011 and will take six years to complete, cutting journey times from Paris to Bordeaux to 2 hours and 5 minutes. The tracks will be 340 km long with 17 connecting lines, and about 400 civil engineering structures including 19 viaducts and 7 cut-and-cover tunnels.

When you consider that this is just one of EIB’s pan-European projects, it’s worth keeping an eye out for opportunities as and when funding is granted. Regular announcements are made on the bank’s website www.eib.org.

The opinions expressed in the above interview are those of Brian Field and not those of the EIB.

Siemens wins £1.6b contract for 1,140 new carriages

siemens thameslink infrastructure news

The £1.6b contract for 1,140 new carriages on the UK’s north-south cross-London Thameslink rail route has been awarded to a consortium led by German company Siemens. The Siemens consortium was chosen over Derby’s Bombardier.

Siemens claim the project will generate as many as 2,000 British jobs throughout the supply chain. With the first train projected to run the Thameslink route in 2016, the development has been described as “a boost for UK Plc” by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Managing Director of UK Siemens Rail Systems, Steve Scrimshaw, stated:

“The introduction of the new Desiro City will offer a much improved passenger travel experience and a step-change in capacity and reliability. It’s a technologically advanced train that has been designed with UK travellers in mind.”

Richard Greenan


Industry Reaction to UK Infrastructure Plan

The recent infrastructure investment package announced last week by the UK Government sparked a mixed bag of responses from the industry.

Everyone knows the importance of investment in this sector, but how much of this is political rhetoric and how much is real commitment?

Katja Hall, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the UK’s business watchdog, was reticent; “We must change the current patch-and-mend, stop-start approach to repairing the road network. Giving the Highways Agency long-term funding means it can’t fall victim to the short-term whims of ministers and allows contractors to plan for the future with confidence.”

“This is only the first step. We need a radical overhaul in how we pay for and manage the road network to attract long-term private investment, instead of relying on ever-tighter public funding.

“Bringing forward the A14’s start-date is a huge shot in the arm of the regional and wider national economy. We now must nail down the detail of how we fund it.”

“The HS2 project is important but it needs to wash its face. Industry, investors and taxpayers need confidence that the business case and programme management is watertight. Given wider public spending constraints, ministers need to keep very firm control of costs.”

David Tonkin, Atkins’ UK and Europe chief executive officer called for an integrated plan; “It is encouraging that the UK has a strong pipeline of infrastructure projects and that some schemes such as HS2 are already underway, but more detailed planning is required to translate the longer list of opportunities from paper to tangible progress.

“Each project needs a clear definition of what it aims to achieve and clarity on the funding available from Government and any additional investment required from the private sector. A detailed and integrated industry plan can then be developed and adopted for its delivery. Having these basic steps in place will provide the confidence to attract necessary private and institutional investment and will allow the supply chain to add more value and deliver the infrastructure more efficiently.”

Chris Temple partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC) engineering and construction called for transparency, 
”The announcement to support the construction and house building sector with major investments is welcome in theory, but we will need the details to be transparent and for the Government to adopt an ‘act now’ approach to avoid any further stagnation. 

”The £3bn to kick start the 165,000 new affordable homes is an ambitious commitment and will be a welcome change from the current low levels of funding into the sector. We will also need to see a commitment towards better connectivity between financiers, suppliers, contractors and buyers to enable this ambition to be realised.”

Sue Percy, Chief Executive of the UK’s, Chartered Institute of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) called for a multi modal strategy;

“Whilst we welcome the investment outlined for the highways sector, CIHT believe that this must form part of a long-term multi modal strategy. This and future investment must not only be in large-scale high profile schemes but also in smaller scale projects that can have a direct positive impact on local communities and economies.”

“Everyone relies on or uses transport daily, integrated transport is fundamental to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the community. The whole transport network (including rail, buses, walking & cycling) is important to different users in different ways and must be effective to provide a safe and efficient level of service.”

Other voices in the media highlighted the fact that the investment package announced covered commitments already made to projects already underway and labeled it misleading…

Tell us your views and post your comments below.

Richard Greenan


Paris: Tender out for six new metro stations

The first stage of the massive Paris Metro upgrade is out to tender.

Details:

Urban and landscape architectural design of a viaduct and insertion and a subway station (line 11 extension Rosny Bois Perrier).

The contest is part of the proposed extension of the metro line 11 in Rosny Bois-Perrier (about 6 km further, six new stations). This project is subject to joint control work performed by STIF and RATP.

The competition focuses on the architectural design and urban integration and landscape of a viaduct with a length of 600 meters including aerial station. The project management is ensured by the RATP.

The report asked the candidates in this competition will be a sketch level.

At the end of the contest and after negotiation, one winner will receive a market slices intellectual services.

It is a market with slices on architectural and landscape design and urban integration of the viaduct and the station with the engineering department of the RATP and the architectural monitoring during construction.

The package includes:

– A firm order for the pre-project studies (AVP)

– A conditional phase 1 studies for the project (PRO)

– A conditional phase 2 for architectural and landscape monitoring for the management and monitoring phases of the execution of works contracts (DET) and assistance to the project owner during receive operations (AOR).

Type of contest:

Restricted

Envisaged number of participants minimum number 3 / maximum number 5

Time limit for receipt of projects or requests to participate

 

For further information on how to access these tenders, please contact:

Katerina Hojgrova, DiS. Business Information Account Manager

Office: +44 (0)1273 201115 M UK: +44 (0) 7956 627788 M USA: +1 (0) 3106 942691 email: k.hojgrova@wantoday.com twitter: @WANBusinessInfo

Moscow gears up for $6.45bn Metro contract

It was announced on Tuesday May 21 that the Moscow transportation department is planning to collect bids for a 200bn Rouble ($6.45bn) metro car contract. The tender – which will be for 2,500-3,500 metro cars – will be held in August, and the cars to arrive between 2015 and 2020, the statement read. The move suggests a shift towards European style private-public partnerships for the Russian capital.

The winning tender will claim a 30-year contract, including provision of the cars and subsequent supply of maintenance services. Regular payments for maintenance and rolling stock will be made by the Russian government over the contracts lifespan, but all responsibility for financing and project management lays with the investor.

All previous metro equipment has been supplied by Russian firm Transmashholding, and maintenance carried out by the metro itself. Transmashholding representative Artem Ledenev stated that the lack of necessity to pay for rolling stock up front provides an interesting situation for customers.

Ledenev stated: “The project is interesting to us since we already supply train cars for the metro and we will participate in the tender.” He stressed that the contract could interest all major metro firms – including Alstom, Bombardier, Hitachi, CAF, Uralvagonzavod, Sinara, Skoda, CNR, CSR, Hyundai and Transmashholding. He added, “this is a large contract and the interest in it is very high.”

It is in the supplier’s interest to establish a lengthy contract for further train servicing – the cost of which for the entire cycle will also reach roughly $6.45bn. Deputy Mayor Maxim Liksutov stated: “This new approach will improve the quality of metro train maintenance while saving from 15 to 20 percent of the annual budget.”

The news comes following Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s claims that all old metro cars were to be replaced by 2020. A total of 4,800 trains currently run on the Moscow Metro, with the goal to replace them all, beginning with those serviced at the Novogireevo metro depot.

Richard Greenan


Infrastructure: catalyst for development?

Infrastructure has always been the oxygen of development. It’s no coincidence that most of the world’s cities straddle rivers, once the sites of early settlements. More recently, infrastructure has been playing catch up, forever increasing capacity to service the sustained influx of 21st century city dwellers.

However a groundbreaking development in Vauxhall, London, sees infrastructure taking the lead and triggering one of the largest redevelopments in Europe.

A developer’s agenda is not the same as a city leader’s but their world’s are inextricably linked. A new tower for example will inevitably increase loading on the existing infrastructure but on the other hand, when completed and full of tax paying residents, will generate significant revenue for the city coffers.

The Nine Elms scheme is rare example of what can be done when the visions come together.

But is Nine Elms really that different? To get a true perspective, we need to examine some other areas of London.

London Bridge viaduct

London Bridge viaduct

London Bridge Tower (The Shard) South of the Thames is currently in the limelight, providing an excellent example as a fully integrated development. I am reluctant to use the hackneyed term joined up thinking, but until someone comes up with a better one, this project is the epitome of this notion. It has been hailed as a vertical city and in this respect, it works, being forged in the sky above an existing major hub. The tower’s hinterland, including the already vibrant Borough Market is set for a total transformation of its community.

Kings Cross concourse

Kings Cross concourse

Further north in the city, the current largest development in Europe, Kings Cross covering  67 acres, whilst not being vertical is strategically centered on the St Pancras International/Kings Cross transport hub which connects London to the UK’s North and Midlands and to mainland Europe via Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel.

Cross Rail's new station at Whitechapel

Cross Rail’s new station at Whitechapel

Crossrail, London’s East/West metro line currently under construction is now stimulating property values across the capital. The long awaited project has been on the cards for decades, but now that the four giant boring machines are creating 100m/day of tunnel each, so property bubbles are emerging around each station on the line. Whitechapel, the seedy district best known for its notorious Jack the Ripper connection is now cited as being the next Notting Hill, one of London’s most sought after areas.

Crossrail comes to Canary Wharf

Crossrail comes to Canary Wharf

Further East, the ambitious dockland development at Canary Wharf had stalled in the 1980s due partly to a recession but also the lack of transport connections, being serviced only by a limited capacity, Dockland’s Light Railway.  The rolling out of the city’s main underground network in the guise of the Jubilee line in 1999 transformed the development into a highly successful business district. London had its own La Defence. The additional connection via Crossrail (now under construction) will secure the ongoing prosperity of the district.

9ELMS 700 map

However, the big daddy of infrastructure-generated developments is the Nine Elms project. Covering some 200 acres, the previously blighted borough of Vauxhall is being hailed as the city’s greatest transformational story. The development stretches along the South bank of the Thames with the hulk of the disused Battersea power station at the West end, and the sparkling new Vauxhall tower at the East.

9ELMS 700 battersea

The sad and ingnomious trail of false starts that Battersea has suffered over the recent decades could only have been reversed by something close to divine intervention. The bolt didn’t come out of the sky, but from underground, in the form of an extension to London’s Northern Line underground.

It was a brave move, spending £1bn GBP on a transport infrastructure network to an area that no one wanted to go to, but suddenly everything added up.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and chair of the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership: “Bringing the Tube to Battersea has long been the ambition of this council and we are now within touching distance. This project is the key to unlocking Nine Elms on the South Bank’s full potential and delivering 25,000 new jobs and 16,000 new homes.”

An independent study by leading economic consultancy Volterra has concluded that the wider economic benefits of extending the Northern line would pay for the scheme between three and nine times over.

The study concluded that the new Tube link would:

Expand the Central London Activity Zone – one of the most productive commercial districts in the world.

Generate up to £7.9bn in wider economic benefits and up to £4.5 billion in additional tax revenue for the Exchequer.

Repay the money spent delivering the NLE between three and nine times over through increased economic outputs and increased foreign investment in the UK.

More than treble the number new of jobs created in the area – up to 25,000

provide capacity for 16,000 new homes in the area.

It’s an impressive list. Could Nine Elms be the forerunner of a new generation of infrastructure powered developments? Let us know of other examples and we will feature them on World Infrastructure News.

Michael Hammond


World Infrastructure News to Support Base London

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We are delighted to announce our involvement with Base London the low carbon, built environment and infrastructure event on 11 July. Base London brings together an amazing list of the industry’s  Big Guns who share a holistic vision of a low carbon 21st Century City underpinned by an integrated, fabric of next generation infrastructure.

Michael Hammond Editor at World Infrastructure News comments, “This is great opportunity for us to get involved with this exciting initiative. We are totally behind the programme and our media partner involvement will enable us take the passion and inspiration from the event to the wider, Global Infrastructure community”

Andrew Dowding CEO of Base Cities commented: “We love doing business with young energetic businesses like World Infrastructure News, particularly one with such compatible views on future cities and their infrastructure. So we’re greatly looking forward to working together and accessing a great route to market and adding to the rigour of our content. ”

Programme details.

http://www.basecities.com/london/the-event/programme

Big Data – Media hype or industry game changer? 1400hrs.

It’s been heralded as the onset of a whole new era of integrated cities, 24/7 data collection being run through algorithms and fed back into the city machine, making our lives more efficient, seamless commutes, travel disruption a thing of the past. We have been fed a vision of driverless cars, clean streets and a smarter way of living, but where are the facts; The case studies, the proof and of course the money?

Michael Hammond editor at World Infrastructure News puts these questions and more to a panel of experts;

Panel confirmed so far:

Andy Stanford Clark; IBM
Parsons Brinkerhoff
Scott Cain; Future Cities Project Leader, Technology Strategy Board
Barry Hughes (HOK)
Charles Secrett; former FOE director and government advisor

Register now:

http://www.registrationline.org.uk/base/event468/reg.asp?event=468

 


Written By admin 
May 17, 2013 10:06 am
Posted In Business

Hochtief sells airports division for €1.1 billion

Hochtief’s AirPort division has been sold to Canadian pension fund PSP Investments German for €1.1 billion.

The German contractor holds stakes in Airports at Athens, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and Tirana which, combined, handle approximately 95 million passengers annually.

Recently appointed Chief Executive Marcelino Fernández Verdes aims to develop the business into leading global infrastructure provider. Commenting on the sale, he said the cash would help Hochtief climb out of debt and pursue its growth plans. “The transaction is the result of a very competitive tendering process,” he said. “We will use the released funds as planned to reduce debt and to invest in the operating infrastructure business. The transaction will further strengthen Hochtief’s financial and competitive position.”


Deutsche Bahn’s Veolia acquisition on track

The ongoing talks between Deutsche Bahn and Veolia Transdev Central Europe regional transport services appears close to conclusion according to media sources.

The Federal Republic of Germany, is the majority shareholder of the German transport giant.

An official announcement is being prepared and will be published as soon as the deal is finalised.

Veolia Transdev Central Europe operates regional bus transport in six Central Eastern European countries, including Croatia, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

DB Arriva, Deutsche Bahn’s subsidiary responsible for regional transport outside of Germany, operates bus and rail transport in 12 European countries. These include the Central Eastern European markets in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The acquisition will be subject to approval by Deutsche Bahn’s  supervisory board and the relevant merger control authorities.