The Edge Malaysia, 8 January 2006
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
Group managing director, YTL Corp Bhd
YTL Group did not bag any major projects in 2006. But in 2007, the group and its managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh will be watched closely for the two major projects they are supposedly on the verge of securing.
Analyst reports have stated that YTL Corp is poised to win some very lucrative jobs from the government. Among them are a RM600 million transport-related job, a RM1 million river clean-up project and a RM150 million ERL terminal job at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang.
And on top of all this, Yeoh has not given up on his proposal to build an RM8 billion bullet train project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Yeoh has reportedly said that he is confident the project will be given the green light from the government.
The government has indicated that the bullet train project, if it is approved, would be done on a strictly private finance initiative basis. So, strictly speaking, Yeoh and YTL would have to bear all business risks associated with the bullet train.
And Yeoh would have to convince the financiers of the project that there is sufficient demand for the service, namely users who would be willing to pay a high enough price for the ride, which would make the train project viable.
The challenge Yeoh would face is the massive land acquisition costs needed for the project as the bullet train would need its own tracks. (It will not be able to ride on the existing railway infrastructure for the most part.)
Furthermore, indications are that low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd could in the not-too-distant future secure the rights to ply the Kuala Lumpur International Airport-Singapore route and that again could put some pressure on the bullet train’s utilisation rate. – By Risen Jayaseelan