Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport has received three bids to develop the $2.7bn Mafraq-Ghweifat motorway project.

The 327-kilometre highway, which is being developed on a public-private partnership basis, will link Mafraq, close to Abu Dhabi Island, with Ghweifat, which is on the border with Saudi Arabia.

The three bidders include Australia’s Macquarie, which has appointed France’s BNP Paribas as its financial adviser and also has financial support from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Jordan’s Arab Bank.

The other two groups bidding are the Mafraq Motorway Group, led by Austria’s Strabag, which is being advised by France’s Calyon; and a Chinese joint venture of China Communications Construction Company and MTD Capital.

The bids were submitted on 24 December, although the value of the bids is not yet known.

Two other groups had been prequalified for the contract, but dropped out of the process. A group led by France’s Bouygues Travaux Publics pulled out before bids were due to be submitted. The Amite consortium, led by Italy’s Autostrade per l’Italia and Dubai’s Al-Naboodah Construction Group, did not submit a bid by the deadline.

“Considering that it is still a tough financing market and the size of the project, getting three bids is a good result,” says a source close to the project.

The bidding process was postponed several times from the original bid deadline of 30 September to allow interested groups more time to prepare their bids.

Ernst & Young is financial adviser to the Department of Transport on the project.

Various Abu Dhabi government bodies will take stakes in the project totalling 51 per cent. Currently, Invest AD, Mubadala Development Company and the Abu Dhabi Investment Council are expected to invest in the project, although other government-related firms could also become involved.