Battle lines drawn as big guns vie for record PFI

The UK's largest PFI waste contract is currently up for grabs and tenders are in from consortia and leading lights from the waste industry keen to scoop this opportunity.

The Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) is looking for a partner to take on the job of tidying up after the city and its surrounding boroughs, a contract worth an estimate £4 billion.

An estimated £300 million capital investment will be expected of the winner of the massive contract.

The tender process has led to a four horse race with SITA and the Waste Recycling Group each putting in an independent bid with Laing and Viridor forming the first consortium and Shanks and Babcock & Brown the second.

While it is still an open race murmurings from the GMWDA camp have left bookies favouring the consortia.

The 25-year contract is expected to begin in April 2007.

The Viridor Laing bid would couple the former’s waste expertise with the latters extensive experience of PFI contracts, while the Shanks Babcock & Brown bid once again brings into play a waste industry heavy weight, this time coupled with a multi-national finance house.

Andy Friend, chief executive of John Laing plc, said: “The waste sector presents Laing with the opportunity to utilise its skills and success in other areas of privately financed infrastructure.

“To date, there has been insufficient investment in the sector to ensure that waste disposal authorities meet their EU landfill targets in 2010 and beyond.

“This is now set to change and we are very pleased to have team up with such an excellent partner for this very significant opportunity.”

Colin Drummond, chief executive of Viridor Waste Management Ltd said: “The combined strength of Viridor Laing will enable us to offer practical competitive solutions for the needs of GMWDA.

“The Viridor Laing combination brings together many years of complementary experience and expertise. We are delighted that we are in a position to offer services in this way on such a prestigious contract.”

Commenting on his consortia’s chances Michael Averill, group chief executive of Shanks said: “We are delighted to have Babcock & Brown as our joint venture partners, who have extensive experience within the PFI arena.

“We fully believe that the unique strengths of each party will enhance our bid and will improve our ability to provide GMWDA with the high quality facilities and services that they expect.”

By Sam Bond

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