Meridiam among three bidders for Montréal symphony(2)

The French infrastructure fund replaced Babcock & Brown Canada as equity sponsor in the Accès Symphonique Montréal consortium. Two other consortia are bidding for the 30-year concession to develop and operate the future home of the Montréal Symphony Orchestra.

Québec Public-Private Partnership Agency (Québec PPP) has received three proposals for the development of a concert hall for the Montréal Symphony Orchestra – the Canadian province’s first PPP in the cultural sector.

Concert aficionados:
beneficiaries of PPPs

The three groups are Accès Symphonique Montréal, which includes French infrastructure fund Meridiam Infrastructure as equity partner; Axor-Dalkia, which includes construction and engineering firm Groupe Axor and energy engineering firm Dalkia Canada; Groupe Immobilier Ovation, which includes construction and engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Babcock & Brown Canada was originally the equity provider in the Accès Symphonique Montréal consortium but was replaced by Meridiam. Babcock tried to do a similar swap with Meridiam for its equity interest in the Port of Miami tunnel but the state of Florida refused to reach financial close with a new equity sponsor in the winning consortium for the $1 billion project.

The winning bidder will design, build and finance the concert hall and have a concession for its operation and maintenance for 30 years, inclusive of the construction and design phase.

The hall will house 1,900 seats and accommodate 120 musicians and a choir of 200, according to project specifications required by the Québec Ministry of Culture. It is expected to be completed in 2011.

Québec PPP expects to recommend a preferred bidder to the ministry in early April. Contract signing is expected shortly thereafter. Each consortium has submitted a technical design, price and a financing plan. Major criteria for the evaluation of the bids include urban integration of the design, its functionality, quality of materials, quality of lighting and acoustics.

Québec PPP has previously estimated the net present value of the project between C$250 million and C$300 million (€184 million; $233 million).

The project has been in procurement since December 2006, when Québec PPP issued a request for qualifications for the development of the concert hall. It is the province’s first PPP for a cultural asset. The province has previously signed PPP contracts for two highways and rest stops along its highway system.

The total value of the three signed PPPs and eight more that are currently in procurement exceeds C$8 billion, according to Québec PPP.