Chinese investors ‘interested in Mersey Gateway bridge’

Michael Hunt

A Chinese investment agency is in talks to help finance a second bridge across the River Mersey, says Liverpool Vision.

Vision said the Pudong Development Agency, a state-owned company, has in the region of £25bn which it is looking to invest.

It is being courted by officials from Halton Council, with chief executive David Parr travelling to the World Expo in Shanghai recently for talks about the £436m Mersey Gateway bridge between Runcorn and Widnes.

The bridge has yet to be given final approval by the Government, but before the general election it was hoped it would be signed off in July.

The Government has provisionally agreed to provide around £123m worth of Private Finance Initiative credits to help part-finance the bridge, which would be paid for over 30 years.

Mike Taylor, director of investment at Liverpool Vision, which is leading the Mersey Gateway project, believes it would represent a great opportunity for the Pudong Development Agency.

Taylor said: "They can put money in and get a return on their investment, which is guaranteed because of the bridge's toll revenue."

Vision is also leading Liverpool's participation in the World Expo event in partnership with the North West Development Agency, Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool-Shanghai Partnership.

Vision and its partners hope that at least six significant inward investments can be secured as a result of the Shanghai showcase.

Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, who became new leader following Labour's local election win last week, said: "I backed going to the Shanghai World Expo from the outset. It is absolutely vital we sell ourselves not just to European markets but also world markets.

"We can rightly be proud of what we are achieving there. Let's hope we can report some successes during our stay and after as well."

Work on the bridge was planned to begin next year with a target being to open the new toll bridge in 2014.

The World Expo runs until 31 October this year.

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