UPDATE 3-Li Ka-Shing, Goldman vie for rapid UK rail route

* At least 4 groups pursue UK’s only high-speed rail line

* Hong Kong billionaire keen, weeks after $9 bln deal

* Rival teams include enlarged Goldman-Eurotunnel group

* Channel-link sale could yield $2.3 bln for UK gov’t

* Morgan Stanley, Ontario-based funds also interested
(Adds emergence of Hong Kong’s Li Ka-Shing as would-be
bidder)

By Quentin Webb and Greg Roumeliotis

LONDON/AMSTERDAM, Aug 17 (BestGrowthStock) – Li Ka-Shing has
emerged as one of the suitors for Britain’s only high-speed
rail line, just weeks after the Hong Kong tycoon struck a $9
billion deal to buy the UK’s biggest electricity distribution
network.

With indicative bids due on Tuesday, Li’s Cheung Kong
Infrastructure (CKI) (1038.HK: ) faced at least three rival
groups: a five-strong bidding group that included Goldman Sachs
and Eurotunnel, a team allied with Morgan Stanley, and a pair
of big Canadian pension funds.

The fierce competition for High Speed 1, which has a
30-year concession to run the railway linking London and the
Channel Tunnel, is a boon for the British government, which is
selling the 109-kilometre (68-mile) line to help cut its budget
deficit.

Three people familiar with the matter said CKI was among
the groups interested in the line. CKI is 85 percent-owned by
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (0013.HK: ), which Li chairs. CKI did not
immediately respond to an emailed request for comment outside
Hong Kong business hours.

On July 30, the Hong Kong billionaire struck a $9 billion
deal, using CKI and other vehicles, to buy Britain’s biggest
electricity distribution network from French power giant EDF
(EDF.PA: ). [ID:nNN2925276]

HS1 also operates London’s St. Pancras International
station and three others on the route, offering bidders the
chance to make unregulated returns through car parking,
advertising and leasing shop space.

High Speed 1 expects revenue of 263 million pounds and
earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA) of 135 million pounds for the year through March 2011,
according to a teaser sale document.

People familiar with the matter have previously told
Reuters HS1 could fetch 1.5 billion pounds ($2.3 billion).

EUROTUNNEL GROUP GROWS

Among the rival bidders, Goldman Sachs (GS.N: ) and Groupe
Eurotunnel have expanded their team, dubbed GB Speedrail, a
consortium spokesman said on Tuesday.

The group, already consisting of Eurotunnel (GETP.PA: ),
Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners and M&G’s Infracapital,
has been joined by two financial backers, Britain’s
Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and the infrastructure
arm of France’s Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC), he
said.

USS, which looks after the retirement plans of British
academics, is the country’s second-biggest funded pension
scheme. It had 28 billion pounds of assets under management at
the end of 2009.

CDC Infrastructure, established this year, holds minority
investments in new and existing infrastructure projects,
including a new high-speed link between Tours and Bordeaux. It
seeks to achieve a 1.5 billion euro portfolio within five
years. [ID:nLDE63E20Q]

People familiar with the matter have previously identified
two other bidding groups likely to submit indicative offers.

One is made up of Morgan Stanley (MS.N: ) (Read more about the money market today. ) Infrastructure, 3i
Infrastructure Plc (3IN.L: ) and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
The second is a Canadian partnership that has allied Borealis,
the infrastructure investment arm of Ontario Municipal
Employees Retirement System, with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension
Plan.

A spokesman for London & Continental Railways, the
state-owned parent of HS1, confirmed Tuesday’s deadline but
declined to comment in detail on bidders.

“We are waiting to see what bids have been received,” he
said. “It’s certainly going well and there has been interest.”

UBS is advising London & Continental Railways on the sale.
Citigroup is advising the Department for Transport.

($1=.6408 Pound)
(Additional reporting by Cecilia Valente in London; Editing by
Jon Loades-Carter, Hans Peters and Steve Orlofsky)

UPDATE 3-Li Ka-Shing, Goldman vie for rapid UK rail route