COAST TRANSPORT GROUP EYES $69B SAUDI PROJECT

COAST TRANSPORT GROUP EYES $69B SAUDI PROJECT

GOLD Coast bus builder and transport operator Transit Australia Group (TAG) is on the hunt for multibillion-dollar opportunities in the Middle East after laying the groundwork for global expansion plans late last year.

The company, owned by the Calabro family, has revealed it is part of a consortium that has been short-listed for a project in Dubai. However, a second greenfield project in Saudi Arabian city Jeddah is also in its sights.

TAG says the Saudi Arabian project has a total budget of $69 billion and that it plans to bid on part of it when it goes to tender later this year.

The global push comes after TAG, through its Bustech subsidiary, last year announced it was leading a $170 million program to develop electric buses for the Malaysian market.

The Burleigh-based Bustech is already one of Australia's largest bus manufacturers, with major government contracts in NSW and Queensland. Transit Australia Group is the largest privately owned public transport operator in Queensland, with its 600-strong fleet including the Surfside bus line.

TAG CEO Michael McGee says the success of the Malaysian project has whetted the company's appetite to diversify its business base beyond the Australian market, including lucrative Middle Eastern opportunities.

"TAG has spent a considerable amount of time in the region building relationships and networks," says McGee.

"This investment has resulted in TAG finding the right consortium partners, which is critical to developing a competitive advantage."

TAG has teamed up with Saudi Arabian construction and services giant El Seif Contracting and Turkish logistics company Gursel to pursue major contracts in the region.

"Being able to partner with a company of the scale, experience and reputation of El Seif, combined with Gursel's strong transport and logistics experience provides the consortium with a strategic advantage," says McGee.

The TAG consortium is targeting projects for either establishing or expanding public transportation systems and infrastructure across major cities in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

TAG has already established an office in Dubai where it has been short-listed for a bus tender for the city's transport network which is serviced by 1600 buses.

McGee says the Jeddah project will service a population of 3.88 million which is expected to rise to 6.2 million over the next 20 years.

"This will place significant pressure on the region's transport systems," Mr McGee says. 

"The Saudi Arabian Government is proactively seeking to address these transport issues with the creation of a world-class public transportation system."

The Saudis have set a total budget of $69 billion for the new transport network to be delivered by 2020.

"TAG is very excited to be part of these nation-building projects in the Middle-East, and we are confident the international consortium will be successful," McGee says.

"Australian companies often have unique capabilities required to compete on the international stage and I would encourage more Australian companies to think beyond our domestic borders."

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