Saudi Arabia has signed a legal advisory services contract for Saudi Railways’ expansion programme with the London-based international law firm Linklaters in association with the Saudi law office of Abdulaziz H Fahad.
The selection of legal advisers was carried out through open tenders based on a quality and cost criteria where seven firms were shortlisted from a total of 34 bidders. Linklaters is widely recognised as a leading international law firm in the rail and privatisation sector, including review and drafting of pertinent laws and regulations, and in the structuring of concession agreement.
Ibrahim Al-Assaf, minister of finance and chairman of the board of directors of the Public Investment Fund, and Jobarah Al-Suraisry, minister of transport and chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) signed the contract on behalf of the kingdom.
The Supreme Economic Council had approved the implementation of the expansion programme and appointed the SRO as the executing agency for that purpose. The programme consists of two new railway projects: (1) the Saudi land bridge, connecting the existing railway network to Jeddah, a distance of 950km, thereby completing the rail link between the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, with a further 115km connection to Jubail; and (2) the Western Railway, a network of 570km connecting Makkah, Jeddah, Madinah and Yanbu, that would mainly provide passenger services between the two holy cities via Jeddah.
The implementation and privatisation of the expansion programme will be on a BOT (build, operate and transfer) basis. The BOT concession would grant investors the right to finance, operate the expanded network and collect revenues for a specified duration after which it would be transferred to the government.
The signing of the legal advisory agreement follows last month’s financial and technical advisory services agreement by the two ministers for the same project with an international consortium comprising the London-based UBS Investment Bank, National Commercial Bank (NCB) of Saudi Arabia, and SNCFI of France.