The New Zealand Transport Agency has chosen the Northern Express Group as the preferred bidder for the Puhoi to Warkworth project, the second state highway PPP in the country.
Northern Express Group is a consortium comprising Morrison & Co Public Infrastructure Partners II (PIP II), a New Zealand PPP-focused vehicle, and state-run insurance scheme Accident Compensation Corporation.
The group's other members include Spanish highway developer Acciona Concesiones, Acciona Infrastructure Australia, Kiwi infrastructure and building materials manufacturer Fletcher Building, the Fletcher Construction Company and civil engineering company Higgins Contractors.
The team is one of the three shortlisted consortia that the Transport Agency had invited to submit a proposal for the financing, design, construction, management and maintenance of the 18.5km four-lane highway.
“Pending the successful completion of contract negotiations, we expect to award the PPP contract for the Puhoi to Warkworth project by late 2016. The contract price will be confirmed at that point,” said Fergus Gammie, chief executive of the Transport Agency, in a statement.
The preferred bidder is expected to build the project within six years and then run it for 25 years, with the full ownership of the highway remaining with the public sector.
Expected to open for traffic by 2022, the project will form the first section of the government’s Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance, which aims to extend the Northern Motorway from the Johnstone's Hill tunnels just south of Puhoi to a point north of Wellsford.
Morrison’s PIP II, which the firm is currently raising with a $100 million target, reached an $80 million first close last December with a cornerstone investment from New Zealand's Government Superannuation Fund Authority. In contrast to its $160 million predecessor, which also invests in the Australian market, it is solely focused on New Zealand.