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Mersey Gateway project successfully reaches financial close

Rock Infrastructure is pleased to have helped Halton Borough Council reach financial close today with the Merseylink consortium on the Mersey Gateway PPP project. Rock has worked with Halton Borough Council as its development partner for the project. Mark Swindell has been the project’s Commercial Director and Matthew Allen has led the commercial team.

Rock’s main roles on this project included:

• Devising an innovative procurement strategy that has resulted in the best value for money design, build, finance and operate contract for the new crossing and also delivered for Halton Borough Council a separate partnering agreement with an experienced toll operator who will manage all of the risks associated with collecting toll revenues in an open road (no barrier) toll system and develop and implement a strategy to optimise revenues from tolls on behalf of the council;

• Negotiating funding terms with the Department for Transport and seeking clearance through HM Treasury’s Treasury Approval Point process;

• Playing a leading role in discussions with central government regarding the use by the project of the IUK Guarantees Scheme and facilitating the introduction of this scheme into the procurement. The project is the first use of this scheme on a PPP infrastructure project;

• Creating a long-term governance structure for the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, the arm’s length subsidiary of Halton Borough Council that will manage the project on the council’s behalf;

• Acting as principal in all commercial, legal and financial negotiations with bidders during the project’s competitive dialogue phase and with the Merseylink consortium following its appointment as the project’s preferred bidder; and

• Managing the project’s financial, legal, tolling and insurance advisors

Rock founding partner Mark Swindell, said:

“We have been proud to have the opportunity to provide the commercial directorate to Halton Borough Council on this procurement from the planning stage through to financial close. Rock has been delighted to ensure that the project has been delivered to a tight competitive dialogue timetable, with plaudits from all bidders as to the efficiency of the process and deliverability of the project. We are also delighted that the project’s procurement strategy has resulted in savings against the affordability limits of £250 million. Deliverability was also improved by the use of the IUK Guarantees Scheme, the first application of this scheme on a PPP project.

This project will deliver an iconic piece of economic infrastructure that will help regenerate Halton and the wider Merseyside region. It has been achieved because of brave political leadership from the Halton Borough Council members and the local MP; the passion and strong management of the CEO of the council, David Parr; the practical experience, intelligence and drive of the project director Steve Nicholson; and the support of DfT, HM Treasury and Halton Borough Council’s advisors. We are pleased to have been part of the leadership team that has made this complex and ground-breaking piece of infrastructure happen.”

Steve Nicholson, Interim Chief Executive of the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board and the Project Director leading up to financial close, said:

“From the outset Halton recognised we needed the best people to establish this innovative partnership contract. The Rock direction on commercial issues has made a major contribution to such a successful result.”

David Parr, CEO of Halton Borough Council, commented:

“The delivery of Mersey Gateway has been a fantastic team effort. Rock have played an important part in bringing the project to Financial Close, bringing their personal expertise and skills to the project and helping to achieve
the delivery of this iconic project.”

For further information please contact Mark Swindell or Matthew Allen, Rock Infrastructure partners

Mersey Gateway project successfully reaches financial close

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