High stakes, high bids: Winner of massive Suez Canal tender to be announced next month

464Egypt will announce the winner of a tender to develop the area surrounding the Suez Canal next month, the head of the canal authority said, moving forward with plans to revive an economy struggling with political turmoil since 2011.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) invited 14 consortia in January to bid for a chance to present their plans on how they would develop the 76,000 square kilometre (29,000 square miles) area around the canal.

“By the beginning of next year we’ll begin by building the infrastructure of the project and then we will invite investors from all the world for a main conference here and give them the opportunity for investment in the project,” SCA’s Mohab Memish said at a conference in Cairo. The winner will be announced in mid-June Memish said.

Bidders include Australia’s WorleyParsons, consulting firm McKinsey & Co and Japan’s Oriental Consultants.

The Suez Canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and brings around $5 billion a year, a source of hard currency whose importance has risen since a the 2011 uprising deterred tourists and foreign investors.

Egypt wants to turn the area surrounding the canal into an international industrial and logistics hub which would help revive the economy that struggled for more than three years of political turmoil.

The Suez Canal project was a main feature in the campaigns of the most prominent candidates in the 2012 election. It was adopted by the Mursi administration but opposition groups accused him of attempting to seize and sell public land to foreign countries.

Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said at the conference that the Egyptian bourse would play a role in financing mega projects such as the Suez Canal corridor development.

“The role of the bourse will not stop at financing firms, but it will also participate in financing future mega project such as the Suez Canal development,” Mahlab said.

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