French transit firm in Etihad Rail bid
The French transport company Keolis plans to bid for the passenger phase of Etihad Rail, as it looks to tap into an estimated US$3 billion worth of transport projects in the GCC, the company’s chief executive said yesterday.
According to Jean-Pierre Farandou, the president of the executive board, the company targets a 10 per cent market share of the transport projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He added that the region has one of “the highest growth rates” for the group, ranking among the top three markets for Kerolis.
In an effort to win more projects, the company has set up a joint venture with Emirates Transport, owing a 51 per cent stake of the company. The newly established company will be bidding for projects in this country.
“The Middle East is an important piece of the future of the group,” said Mr Farandou. “There is a potential of $3bn of operational and maintenance projects over the coming three years.”
“After the freight project of Etihad Rail, there will be the passengers project. Keolis is very interested.”
Mr Farandou added that his company will be involved in all tenders related to buses, light rail and metros in the GCC.
Abu Dhabi bus projects and Saudi Arabia’s metro are among the coming opportunities that Keolis will be chasing, said Mr Farandou.
Keolis is 70 per cent owned by the French National Railways Corporation (SNCF) and 30 per cent owned by the Canadian Institutional Fund Manager.
Guillaume Pepy, the chairman and chief executive of SNCF, said that he does not expect the decline in oil prices to result in cancelled projects in the region, although there could be delays.
“Perhaps the time frame could take a bit longer, but the need is there, definitely,” said Mr Pepy.