Government sponsors “Team UK” to grab slice of £15trn global infrastructure pie

In a bid to help British firms win major construction contracts overseas, the UK government today launched a new body that will organise British consortiums to bid for juicy contracts as "Team UK".

With echoes of China’s success in state-sponsored infrastructure work in Africa, the move is aimed at grabbing a slice of a projected £15 trillion global infrastructure pie, and brings together state finance and overseas market intelligence.

Co-chaired by International Trade Minister Greg Hands, the body includes some of the UK’s biggest contractors and consultants and will meet three times a year to choose which projects they want to pursue with government support.

"Global infrastructure investment is set to increase rapidly in the coming years and we must make sure UK firms are in prime position to take advantage of it," said Hands.

"Our ‘Team UK’ approach will bring together leading UK infrastructure companies to showcase their expertise on a global scale and work together to successfully bid for the biggest contracts."

Companies in the 17-member body, called Infrastructure Exports: UK (IE:UK) include JCB, Arup, Atkins, Carillion, Mace Group, Mott MacDonald, Systra, KPMG, Turner & Townsend and Wates Group, whose chairman, James Wates, is also co-chair of the new body.

The government says that by 2030, global annual construction investment is expected to grow by 85% to $15.5 trillion, almost the size of the US economy.

Because large infrastructure projects go to consortiums, IE:UK will give UK companies a better chance at winning them, the government says. It aims also to bring smaller companies into the infrastructure export supply chain as well.

"This is a timely, fresh and strategic approach," said James Wates, chairman of Wates Group. "The UK has a wealth of expertise in developing major infrastructure projects. This is a great opportunity for business to work together, alongside the Government, to target overseas projects, as many countries around the world plan to develop their physical infrastructure to support their own economic growth."

Included in the group is the UK’s export credit agency, UKEF, which has provided financing that helps UK firms secure major contracts abroad, such as Carillion’s £490m contract to deliver parts of the Expo 2020 Dubai Park.

The Department for International Trade will also support the group with its network of local staff in 53 countries who will identify projects for which IE:UK might create consortiums to bid.

IE:UK members will select the projects it will support bids for, and form the groups to deliver these bids, identifying companies which will be able to work together effectively and deliver all the required elements of a project, such as design, project management and construction.

The members of IE:UK will be:

  • Co-Chair, Rt Hon Greg Hands, Minister of State and Minister for London, Department for International Trade
  • Co-Chair, James Wates CBE, Chairman, Wates Group Ltd.
  • Sir John Armitt, Chairman, City and Guilds Group
  • Sir Terry Morgan CBE, Chairman, Crossrail Ltd
  • Shaun Carter, Group Development and Strategy Director, Carillion plc
  • Andrew McNaughton, Directoire, Chief Operating Officer, Systra
  • Philip Bouverat, Director, JCB
  • Nick Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, UK & Europe, Atkins
  • Martin Bellamy, Executive Director, BAM Nuttall
  • Mark Holmes, Chief Operating Officer, Consultancy, Mace
  • Tracey Smith, Chief Executive, British Expertise International
  • Graham Cartledge, Chairman, Benoy
  • James Stewart, Chairman, Global Infrastructure, KPMG
  • Gordon Turley, Major Projects Director, Mott MacDonald
  • Freddie Patterson, Business Development Director, Lagan Construction Group
  • Peter Chamley, Global Infrastructure Lead, Arup
  • Stuart Senior, Main Board, Gleeds
  • Dean Purvis, Director, Infrastructure, Turner & Townsend
  • Brian Gallagher, CEO, Infrastructure, Department for International Trade
  • UK Export Finance (UKEF)
  • UK Export Finance is the UK’s export credit agency, working as part of the Department for International Trade.

Image: An example of big-ticket infrastructure projects is China’s 23-km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, on which a number of European firms have worked (Posco)

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