Sixteen bidders have entered the race to add a 3-sq-km industrial zone to Yangon, the commercial capital of Myanmar.
The Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations said expressions of interest had been received from firms in nine countries, including Japan, Singapore, Italy, Spain and France, but did not reveal their identities.
The project is the first phase of a larger plan to develop the west bank of the Yangon River.
It was originally priced at $1.5bn, but this was scaled back to $800m in July.
The project was to have been built by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), but has been opened up to other companies after criticism of the bidding process.
This project will be followed by a larger second phase, previously estimated to be worth about $8bn.
Phase one and two of the planned new city (NYDC)
The "Swiss challenge" is being managed by Munich-based consultant Roland Berger, which was appointed by the New Yangon Development Company (NYDC) in September.
It has made the CCCC’s development plans public to enable the challengers to improve on them. If the Chinese company loses the project, the winner will reimburse its bidding costs. Â
The first phase of the new district will include a bridge over the Yangon River, an industrial park, apartment blocks, a 9 sq km resettlement zone and supporting power, transport and water infrastructure.
NYCDC said the interested parties will receive information on the scope of the works and the timetable for completing them.
When a winner is chosen, CCCC will have 45 working days to better its proposals.
Top image: Yangon is concentrated in the fork of the rivers Yangon and Bago (Nasa/Public Domain)