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High Speed 1 sale set for further delay

The sale of High Speed 1 (HS1) could be delayed by a further four to six weeks as concern builds with the bid deadline just over a fortnight away.

According to NCE’s sister title Infrastructure Journal, banks are yet to go to credit committee and a more realistic target of the end of November could be achieved if the government wants to receive bids at the right level.

In spite of timetable concerns from those on the funding side of the deal, another source close to the running of the sale told IJ that there were no plans to delay the process and was looking forward to receiving bids on 29 October.

While it is fairly commonplace to grant short bid deadline extensions to the sale of assets, the timing of a possible delay is a delicate balance. If by the end of the week banks think it is not achievable in the remaining timeframe, they will likely hold off and deadlines could be missed; however if an extension is granted too early then lenders may not go full steam ahead.

While no official list of bidders has been made available, consortia believed to have submitted bids include:

  • Borealis (the infra investment arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
  • Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI)
  • Groupe Eurotunnel, Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners, M&G’s Infracapital, Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and CDC Infrastructure (Caisse de Dépôts et Consignations)
  • Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, 3i Infrastructure and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)

Additional equity investors such as pension funds, sovereign wealth and infrastructure funds are also expected to complete the various teams. Other potential bidders include a Barclays-led consortium, SNCF and Macquarie.

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