Dentons' UK rail sell-off work puts Taiwan deal on right track

Experience gained in UK rail privatisations has helped secure Denton Hall the job of advising one of two bidders for the world's largest ever Build Operate Transfer project – a $16bn, 345km high speed railway in Taiwan.

Denton Hall has been appointed to advise a consortium, which is led by Taiwan's largest merchant bank, China Development Corporation, and includes Bechtel, acting as project manager, several leading Taiwanese construction companies and Japan's Mitsubishi and Kajima Corporation.

The group intends to build a Japanese Shinkansen-type railway and has also appointed leading Taiwan firm Tsar & Tsai to advise on local law.

It is not known whether the only other bidder, a consortium including Anglo-French conglomerate GEC-Alsthom and German electronics company Siemens, which is seeking to build a French TGV-type rail system, has yet to appoint a legal adviser.

Denton Hall partner Tom Winsor said he thought his firm had won the appointment because of the expertise it has gained from UK rail privatisations. Dentons acts for seven train operator companies and advised the British Rail board on three sales to train operators. Winsor was also seconded to the rail regulator for two years and helped draw up the structure for rail privatisation.

Winsor believes Dentons' bid was also helped by having the greatest number of South East Asian offices, including a big presence in Singapore and Hong Kong. Hong Kong-based partners Richard Lawrence and Sheena Brand will be involved in the Taiwan operation, helped by the firm's London rail team, including Winsor, Julian Pope and Chris McGee-Osborne.

The Taiwanese Government is expected to announce the winning consortium in the autumn. The successful contractor will then be charged with financing and building a completely new rail system running from the capital Taipei to the port of Kaohsiung, and will be expected to operate the line for 30 years before handing it back to the state.