Al Habtoor Leighton-John Holland launch rail JV

Australian contractor links with local firm to target growing sector

The new compnay will target rail projects throughout the Gulf.
The new compnay will target rail projects throughout the Gulf.

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Al Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG), the Dubai based contractor, has joined with Australian rail contractor John Holland to create Advance Rail Group (ARG), a new entity to pursue an expected US$75 billion in future rail jobs within the GCC region.

ARG aims to combine the local presence and knowledge of Al Habtoor Leighton with the specific rail expertise of John Holland, a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings, which purchased 45% of Al Habtoor Engineering in 2007 to create the merger. The company will be based in Abu Dhabi.

“Rail is one of HLG’s key market sectors,” said HLG CEO and managing director Laurie Voyer, who recently told CW his firm would aim to focus more on civil engineering projects rather than buildings. “The strength of both HLG and John Holland puts us in an excellent position to take advantage of the increased opportunities in this growing sector.”

The company cites a number of future rail opportunities in the region with metro lines expected to be installed in Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Light rail lines, including tram systems and regional track networks are also planned by governments across the GCC.

“Our initial focus will be in regional rail in Abu Dhabi and metro systems in Doha,” Voyer said.

“The establishment of this new rail business aligns with HLG’s business strategy to secure more civil infrastructure in this region.”

Last year HLG won a US$693 million contract awarded in partnership with Saudi Arabia's Al Rahji Engineering for the first phase of Riyadh's Information Technology and Communication Complex.

Glenn Palin, John Holland’s group managing director, said the launch of ARG represents an important new overseas venture for the business.

“John Holland has proven experience delivering and maintaining rail infrastructure in remote and rural areas of Australia, so we are well equipped with the right people and plant to manage the challenging landscape of the Middle East,” he said.

“The establishment of ARG reflects our ongoing strategy of using our specialist skills to build new partnerships with established construction businesses in offshore markets. The rail market in the Gulf region is expected to be worth US$75 billion by 2020 and I am confident we can position ARG to secure a good percentage of this work.”

ARG can rail design and infrastructure, including track construction, specialist tunneling, rail maintenance, overhead line wiring and signaling.

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