Foreign construction firms hit the highway to India

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 25 May 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI:Frenetic activity in various sectors such as roads, ports and sea-bridges in India has drawn at least two-dozen foreign giants in civil engineering, construction and infrastructure consultancy services to the country.

During the last six months, around 20 civil engineering and construction companies have entered India or have stepped up their activity, while some big names in the infrastructure consultancy sector are ramping up their operations here.

The leading companies, which are either undertaking projects or bidding for them include Bouygues of France, Hong Kong based China Harbor & Bridge Company, Laing Rourke of the U.K., South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Thailand’s Italthai Engineering and Sweden’s Skanska.

Industry sources said that civil engineering companies such as Turkey’s Limak, Italthai from Thailand, Daelim of Korea, Dyckerhoff of Russia, Widmann from Germany, Malaysia’s IJM Construction, SDN and Road Builders and Japan’s Kajima and Taisei are undertaking projects floated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and infrastructure projects of various state governments.

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRDC) sources said that Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Bouygues Enterprises, Laing O Rourke, Italthai Engineering, Skanska and China Harbour Engineering, in consortium with Indian companies, are bidding for the world’s second largest sea-link project, the $900 million Mumbai Trans Harbor link.

“A host of foreign civil engineering companies have turned their attention to India over the past year, and with more opportunities emerging, this trend is expected to accelerate,” said an infrastructure analyst with SSKI.

A senior Larsen & Toubro official said that advanced technology is the key selling point of all these engineering companies. “The highly-sophisticated technologies provided by multinational companies attract Indian companies to join in a consortium, while bidding for domestic infrastructure projects,” he said.

The sudden rush of foreign firms into the country has also forced domestic majors like L&T, Hindustan Construction Company, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Gammon India and Patel Engineering to refocus on India.

Sources said many other foreign majors are in talks with local companies to jointly bid for projects. In most of the cases, the foreign company provides the technical expertise, while the Indian partner handles the legal and other domestic issues.

Almost all engineering and civil construction companies in India are currently in an expansion mode, said industry officials.

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