Mecca Municipality has appointed Ernst & Young and law firm Ashurst as transaction advisers for the Mecca Mass Rail Transit (MMRT) project.

The appointment was made on 8 March. Sources close to the project confirmed that the advisers were in place and were due to start work on the project immediately.

Mecca Municipality is launching the project through its development arm, Al-Balad Alameen.

Five groups bid to advise the municipality on the project. They were:

  • Ernst & Young (UK headquartered), Ashurst (UK headquartered)
  • Global Investment House (Kuwait), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Trowers & Hamlins (UK headquartered)
  • KPMG (Netherlands headquartered), White & Case (US headquartered)
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (UK headquartered), Pinsent Masons (UK headquartered)
  • Joatha Consulting (Saudi Arabia), Mobsby Associates (UK)

Prior to appointed the Ernst & Young group, Al-Balad Alameen had narrowed its choice down to two, with the KPMG consortium also shotlisted.

Bids for the transaction adviser role were received in early February and the appointment of an adviser was due by around 20 February, although this was delayed while further clarifications were sought from bidders.

The Mecca Mass Rail Transit (MMRT) project will consist of four lines and will run for about 113 kilometres around Mecca city centre with about 24 stations. The first line will be about 12km and will run from Jamarat station in the east, around the Grand Mosque to the station where the Haramain high-speed line will start in the west.