Beijing invites foreign bids for $69.5b in infrastructure projects

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - Beijing's Commission of Reform and Development, the city's economic planner, will invite foreign investors to bid on 126 urban infrastructure projects collectively seeking 338 billion yuan (S$69.5 billion) in financing, the China Daily said on Monday.

The projects include rail transport, roads, rail transit complexes, drainage treatment facilities, waste disposal and heat supply.

The report said private bids will be treated on an equal footing with bids from state-owned firms, and predicted an internal return rate of 8 percent.

"The Beijing government will take measures to ensure investors get a reasonable return," the report quoted Yang Xihui, commissioner of the economic planning agency, as saying.

Policymakers in China are struggling with a quandary; they want to increase infrastructure spending to prop up economic growth rates which have been sagging this year, but they don't want to put more high-risk debt on the books of Chinese banks, which are still struggling to digest the bad loans made during the last infrastructure binge in 2009-2010.

Regulators are signalling increasing openness to foreign money, taking a series of steps to make it easier for money to get into the country through a variety of channels, including both portfolio investment and direct investment.

However, an analysis of economic data has shown that capital began to flow back out of China in June after pouring in to chase a massive rally in the value of the yuan earlier in the year. Some economists believe the outflow is set to continue for the near future as investors reduce their exposure to China.

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