Pennsylvania taps Turnpike champions for privatisations

A government council created to examine possible privatisations across the Quaker State has hired Greenhill as an advisor, which could bring onboard former governor Ed Rendell (pictured) and Rob Collins, the team that tried to privatise the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2008.

A think tank established to explore privatisations in Pennsylvania has enlisted investment bank Greenhill & Company to assist its efforts, which could bring onboard part of the team that tried to privatise the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2008.

The investment bank counts ex-state governor Edward Rendell as a “special adviser” and Robert Collins as head of infrastructure advisory for the Americas. Collins, while at Morgan Stanley, advised Rendell on his 2008 failed attempt to privatise the 537-mile turnpike for $12.8 billion. 

Current governor Tom Corbett, a Republican who in January unseated Democrat Rendell, formed his “advisory council on privatisation and innovation” in September as part of his larger budget plan, which called for privatisation and drastic reduction in spending  in order to combat a growing state deficit – once estimated to reach $5 billion in 2011.

A spokesman for Corbett said a blueprint for privatising prised infrastructure, such as transportation, has not been furnished. Nonetheless, naming a marquee-name adviser like the New-York headquartered ‘boutique’ investment bank could be seen as a crucial first step in selling public infrastructure. 

Corbett has said state prison control will remain private, as will park and recreation. Transportation in Pennsylvania has been badly assailed in the multibillion dollar short fall, leaving the state unable to upgrade its transportation infrastructure.

Meanwhile, a federal court judge has prevented Harrisburg from filing for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy and put the state capital in receivership – a development that could hasten the long-debated sale or lease of its parking and waste incinerator.