French State company, Hugo’s owner and Chinese bridge study financier, among Gozo tunnel bidders

Find out who is bidding to build the Gozo-Malta tunnel

Government wants to build a subsea tunnel to connect Gozo and Malta
Government wants to build a subsea tunnel to connect Gozo and Malta

A subsidiary of the French State’s investment arm and the builders of the new Genoa bridge in Italy are interested in the Gozo-Malta tunnel project.

But the project has also attracted a handful of Turkish construction companies, a Chinese State-owned firm that had financed a feasibility study for a Malta-Gozo bridge in 2013, and Maltese hotel impresario Luke Chetcuti.

The first phase in the tendering process attracted four bidders by its closure on Thursday morning. Two of the bidders are consortiums.

One of the bidders is a consortium made up of five companies that include Egis, a subsidiary of the French State’s investment arm, Caisse des Dépôts. The other partners are two Turkish construction companies, a British investment firm, and a Japanese trading company.

The other consortium is made up of China Communications Construction, which had financed a feasibility study into a bridge between Malta and Gozo, soon after the Labour Party was elected to government.

The other partners are a Dutch company specialising in the development and operation of toll and motorway infrastructure, and two Turkish construction firms, one with a portfolio of metro tunnels.

Another company is Salini Impregilo, an Italian construction firm that is one of the partners in the Genoa bridge project that is replacing the infrastructure that had collapsed two years ago.

The fourth company is Malta Gozo Fixed Link Limited, made up entirely of Maltese shareholders. Paceville impresario and owner of the Hugo’s chain, Luke Chetcuti is behind this company.

Malta Gozo Fixed Link had last year floated its plans for a sunken tunnel rather than have it excavated through rock.

The bidders will now be scrutinised by an evaluation panel and if they satisfy the criteria laid out in the pre-qualification questionnaire will proceed to the second phase.

During the second phase, technical negotiations will be held with the bidders on the proposed projects. The last stage will be the financial package.

Government is insisting it will not be financing the capital expenditure and the bidders will be expected to build, maintain and operate the tunnel, recouping costs through a toll mechanism.

READ ALSO: Four bidders interested in Malta-Gozo tunnel project

Who are the four bidders?

1. Salini Impregilo S.p. A.

This is an Italian construction company that only recently changed its name to Webuild. Notably, it is involved in the construction of the new Genoa bridge that is replacing the one that had collapsed. The company has been involved in several large-scale infrastructural projects, including roads, metro systems, and dams, worldwide.

2. CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium

This consortium is made up of four companies:

China Communications Construction Co. Ltd: This is a state-owned Chinese engineering and construction company. It has been involved in the design, construction and operation of infrastructural projects that include highways, bridges, tunnels, railways, airports, and marine ports. In 2013, this company had financed a study to determine the feasibility of a bridge connecting Malta and Gozo.

Intertoll Infrastructure Developments BV: The Dutch company specialises in the development and operation of toll and motorway infrastructure. Its mother company is headquartered in Budapest, Hungary.

YDA Insaat Sanayi VE Ticaret Anonim Sirketi: This is a major Turkish construction company with a portfolio that spans from road projects to airports, real estate to railway infrastructure.

Gullermak Agir Sanayi Insaat ve Tahhut AS: This is a Turkish construction company, which has a portfolio that includes metro tunnels and railway lines.

3. Equitix – Itochu – Yapi Merkezi – Makyol – Egis Consortium

This consortium is composed of five companies that form the group’s name. These are:

Equitix: A UK-based company that describes itself as a leading investor, developer and long-term fund manager of core infrastructure and energy-efficiency assets in the UK and Europe.

Itochu: A Japanese company that is involved in domestic and international trade of various materials, including metals.

Yapi Merkezi: A Turkish construction company that has worked on the Eurasia Tunnel Project that connects the Asian and European sides of Istanbul via a highway tunnel beneath the seafloor.

Makyol: A Turkish construction company involved in a wide array of infrastructural projects, which also has in its portfolio the construction of several tunnels in Turkey.

Egis: Egis is a construction and engineering company in the mobility services sector. It is a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts, a state-owned financial institution that performs public-interest missions on behalf of France's central, regional and local governments.

4. Malta Gozo Fixed Link Limited

This Maltese-registered company is made up solely of Maltese investors, primarily the Chetcuti’s of the Hugo’s chain.

The son of the late Hugo Chetcuti, Luke Chetcuti is one of the shareholders. Chetcuti owns the entertainment and hospitality chain Hugo’s. Another shareholder is Aarona Chetcuti, who is married to Hugo’s brother Isaac, and Cheryle Falzon Chetcuti, Hugo’s sister.

The other shareholders are Dean Paul Mansueto and Paul Joe Xerxen.

None of the investors in this consortium appear to have experience in large infrastructural works.

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