Friday, November 18, 2011

HART Delays Ansaldo Contract for Second Look

New concerns about the financial health of Finmeccanica SpA, the Italian parent company of Honolulu rail’s car supplier, have delayed execution of a contract with Ansaldo Honolulu.

Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal had stories this week on Finmeccanica’s potental sale of its rail car subsidiary, as well as other financial news on the parent company’s losses.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Interim Executive Director Toru Hamayasu said additional due diligence will be conducted on Finmeccanica. Hamayasu told the board, “If the results are favorable, we will execute the contract,” according to Civil Beat’s report on the meeting.

Looking on along with all the other interested observers are executives of Sumitomo, one of the losing bidders in the selection process. Civil Beat quotes Gino Antoniello, Sumitomo vice president:

“The time for questions has expired. What HART needs to do is require Finmeccanica and Ansaldo to provide a real financial guarantee.”

Project supporters, while perhaps frustrated by the delay, are united in wanting rail built on time and on budget. Hawaii has no experience with projects this big and this expensive, so what’s page-one news here may be tucked inside elsewhere as “business as usual.” Regardless of how it’s played, the largest project in the history of the islands must be done right. If that includes a delay now and maybe others later, so be it.

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