The OneLink consortium shortlisted for Melbourne’s North East Link motorway PPP has pulled out of the process, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
CPB Contractors – a member of the group that includes its parent CIMIC and fellow subsidiaries Pacific Partnerships and UGL – made the decision to quit in the past week, the sources said. Local media reported in December that CPB was planning to withdraw.
The project is estimated to cost up to AUD 9bn (USD 6bn).
Non-CIMIC members of OneLink include DIF and contractor Samsung C&T. There have been ongoing negotiations with the Victorian government since late last year.
While OneLink has not confirmed or publicly given a reason for the withdrawal, the sources said that the consortium is concerned about the risk that contractors were being asked to take on. It is also concerned about a dispute with the government over delays to the AUD 6.7bn Westgate Tunnel road project – being built in Melbourne by CPB Contractors and John Holland – due to the discovery of contaminated soil.
OneLink’s withdrawal from North East Link leaves two other shortlisted consortia: Spark, including Capella Capital, China State Construction Engineering Corp, Salini Impregilo and John Laing; and ViaNova, including Plenary, John Holland and Acciona.
Final bids for the PPP are due in late May.
The North East Link availability PPP is the biggest tendered to date in Australia. It will involve financing, building and operating 6km, three-lane twin tunnels, running from the Eastern Freeway north to Somers Avenue in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
The full 25km North East Link project is the largest road project in the state’s history and has been estimated to cost AUD 15.8bn.
Spokespeople for CIMIC and the Victorian government declined to comment.