Goldman/Eurotunnel Group Bulks Up for UK Rail Bid

LONDON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Groupe Eurotunnel have expanded their bidding group for Britain’s only high-speed rail line, a consortium spokesman said on Tuesday, as first-round bids were due for the 1.5 billion pound route.

The British government is selling “High Speed 1”, which has a 30-year concession to run a 110 kilometre (70 mile) railway linking London and the Channel Tunnel, to help cut its budget deficit. People familiar with the matter have previously told Reuters it could fetch 1.5 billion pounds ($2.3 billion).

The “GB Speedrail” group, already consisting of Eurotunnel (GETP.PA), Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners and M&G’s Infracapital, has been joined by two financial backers, Britain’s Universities Superannuation Scheme, and France’s Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, a spokesman for the group said.

“We will make an indicative bid today,” the spokesman said.

The five-strong group is vying with at least two rival teams. One is made up of Morgan Stanley (MS.N) Infrastructure, 3i Infrastructure Plc (3IN.L) and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). A second, Canadian partnership has allied Borealis, the infrastructure investment arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP). ($1=.6408 Pound)

(Reporting by Quentin Webb; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)