Thursday, 24 September 2015

Bidding for HS2

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has attracted a bit of flak for inviting Chinese companies to bid for contracts for the High Speed 2 rail link from London to Birmingham.  A figure of £12bn has been bandied about, and there are complaints that he is being cynical in talking to potential suppliers before the legislation has passed in Parliament and that he should be promoting these opportunities to British businesses rather than Chinese.

Well, he is a very political beast and so we can assume that this is part of a bigger political plan (which appears to be to build better links to China).  From a procurement point of view it probably makes sense.  This is a very big project.  The Chinese have great expertise, having built far more miles of high speed rail than we have in Britain.  However they may not be aware of a decent project possibly happening on a small island on the other side of the world.  I cannot believe that there are any British (or European) potential bidders who are not aware of the project.

So it makes sense to do a bit of pre-market engagement, and effectively fire the starting gun for the competition.  A competition that will no doubt follow OJEU procedures, which will give an advantage to EU companies used to complying with them.  But it will remind them that there are competitors.  Competitors who now will have time to consider whether they would like to be involved when the time comes.  And whether a Chinese company could actually win.  The Chancellor must hope to convince them that they can... whilst fervently (and powerlessly) hoping that they don't.

Politics, eh?  Give me Procurement anyday.

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