Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Oct 23, 2002
High-Point Rendel arm eyes NHAI projects
KOLKATA, Oct. 22
HIGH-POINT Rendel, the UK-based project consultancy firm, is looking for opportunities in India's fast expanding infrastructure sector, according to its Director (Major Projects), Mr R.G.R. Tappin.
Talking to Business Line in London recently, Mr Tappin pointed out that the company had already formed a wholly-owned subsidiary in India, High-Point India Private Ltd, for the purpose. "Until about 18 months ago, we had been doing business in India mainly through our London office, but not any more," he said.
It might be recalled that Rendel Palmer Tritton (RPT), the earlier avatar of High-Point Rendel, was active in India since the pre-Independence days and involved in the planning, design and execution of many important projects including the Howrah Bridge across the Hooghly linking Kolkata with Howrah. Until 1964, RPT maintained its office in India. Subsequently, the company's activities gradually dwindled and till 1990, nothing significant was done. However, the situation has started changing for the better with the Government pursuing the policy of economic liberalisation.
Among the jobs that High-Point Rendel recently executed in India were Vision 2020 for RITES and also Gujarat Maritime Board's port projects such as Mundra Port and Adani Port. The company was also consultant to Dahej Port and the Maharashtra Government for its second Thane bridge project in Mumbai.
"We were consultant to Enron and undertook the maritime design for the import of LNG; luckily we had most of our dues paid," Mr Tappin said.
Right now, High-Point Rendel through its Indian subsidiary is targeting some of the projects being executed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), particularly those on the Golden Quadrilateral, and also negotiating with the Jharkhand Government for some of its major road projects. "The contracts for the Jharkhand projects are to be finalised soon," he said. "We also have in view multilateral-aided projects," he added.
Mr Tappin referred to two major problems being encountered by his company in India. First, the tardy decision-making process. With NHAI, the situation is a little better. However, on the whole, the process of decision-making at various levels of the Government as well as other statutory authorities left much to be desired, he said.
Second, the unhealthy competition among the consultants leading to drop in rates which companies like High-Point Rendel often find difficult to match. This was particularly true in some of the port projects for which the company had offered to provide maritime-related consultancy.
"Consultancy for a new project barely accounts for 5 per cent of the total project cost, but some of the clients want to squeeze it further and quote rates unacceptable to us; but interestingly they get consultants even at that rate," he observed.
"Perhaps the clients care more for the value than anything else, but we care for both value and the quality of job," he said.
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