Three left for Abu Dhabi highway

The ANITE consortium, led by Atlantia subsidiary Autostrade per l’Italia, has pulled out of the race for Abu Dhabi’s $2.7bn Mafraq-Gwheifat highway PPP. Three bidders are now left with a winner expected to be announced in the second half of the year.

An Italian-led consortium pulled out of the race for Abu Dhabi’s $2.7 billion Mafraq to Gwheifat highway project – the Gulf emirate’s first road PPP – leaving three bidders in the race.

Mafraq-Gwheifat: three
bidders left

The 327-kilometre highway will link Mafraq, to the south of the metropolitan area of Abu Dhabi, to the border post with Saudi Arabia at Ghweifat, in the western part of the emirate. The Abu Dhabi DOT said the highway will serve as a strategic link between the emirate and neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A source close to the deal explained that the ANITE consortium (Autostrade per l’Italia/ Al Naboodah Construction Group/Impreglio/Todini Costruzioni/Emirates Utilities Company) pulled out due to internal disagreements about the project. 

Three final bidders are now left in the race – CCCC-MTD (China Communications Construction Company/MTD Capital); IRTIBAAT (Macquarie Capital/Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank/Al Jaber Transport/ N.V. Besix/ Mouchel Middle East/Transfield); and the Mafraq Motorway Group (Strabag/Joannou & Paraskevaides/J&P Avax/Saif Bin Darvish/Egis).

The source said the Abu Dhabi DOT demanded a high quality term sheet with commitments from at least four banks covering a minimum of 25 percent of the project’s debt. Bidders which submit a larger portion of committed funds are expected to have a competitive advantage.  

He added the DOT has yet to decide if it will implement a best and final offer stage, which usually narrows the competition down to two bidders, or appoint a preferred bidder directly. But a winner is expected to be announced towards the second half of this year. Ernst & Young is providing legal advice to the DOT with consultancy Mott McDonald advising on the technical side.