Wed, Jan 28, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Rail bureau, Cathay Life ink contract

HIGH-SPEED PROJECT:The insurance firm will develop two properties in Wuri District, building an e-commerce logistics center and a conference center

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Bureau of High Speed Rail yesterday signed a contract with Cathay Life Insurance Group to develop a site near the high-speed rail station in Taichung.

The company was selected in November to develop the No. 101 and No. 108 commercial-use properties near the station in Wuri District (烏日), which cover an area of about 3.64 hectares, for 30 years.

An e-commerce logistics center, a tourism factory and a conference center are among the facilities planned for the site, with an estimated investment of more than NT$3.1 billion (US$99.5 million). The buildings are scheduled to be completed by 2017.

Bureau of High Speed Rail Director-General Allen Hu (胡湘麟) said the Taichung project will be its first development in central Taiwan using the surface right of the properties to attract investors, but Cathay Life’s second investment involving properties near a high-speed rail station.

Cathay Life is building a shopping outlet near the Greater Taoyuan station, with the first stage of the construction to be completed this summer.

Hu said the location of the Taichung station — close to the Port of Taichung, Taichung Airport and the Central Taiwan Science Park — allows passengers to access the major cities along the west coast within an hour.

“The high-speed rail station in Taichung is ranked No. 2 in terms of passengers accessing the stations,” he said.

The project should help boost the nation’s logistics industry and the national economy, Hu added.

Cathay Life Insurance Group senior vice president Andrew Liu (劉上旗) said the firm’s assets come from the premiums paid by Cathay Life’s 7 million clients.

The company is required by government regulations to spend 45 to 50 percent of the premiums in overseas investments, he said.

“However, we very much look forward to opportunities to invest in Taiwan,” Liu said. “Not only can the project help keep the money in the nation, it can also help develop the economy.”

While focusing on revitalizing the land around high-speed rail stations, the bureau is also concentrating on imminent potential bankruptcy of the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC), which could come as early as April.

Asked whether there is still a chance to save the company, Hu said the THSRC’s board of directors would itself have to propose a financial restructuring plan, but one that did not involve an extension of the concession period.

Extending the concession period would require legislative approval and THSRC might not be able to finish the necessary procedures by April, Hu said.

With an amendment to the Statute for Encouragement of Private Participation in Transportation Infrastructure (獎勵民間參與交通建設條例) stuck in the legislature, Hu said the government would not penalize the THSRC board if it tried to block a government takeover.

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