China firms sign deal for high-speed Las Vegas-Los Angeles rail link ahead of Xi's U.S. visit
By Brenda Goh
BEIJING (Reuters) - A unit of China's CRRC Corp, the world's biggest train maker by revenue, on Thursday joined a group of its domestic peers in agreeing a deal to help build a high-speed link from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, underlining the rail giant's lofty overseas ambitions.
Announced in a joint statement by the Chinese firms and U.S. partner XpressWest at a government forum in Beijing, the deal is the latest in a series of deeper Sino-American business ties to be unveiled before President Xi Jinping visits the United States next week. Computer maker Dell Inc said it will invest $125 billion in China, and new bilateral investment treaty offers have been exchanged.
CRRC, formed from a state-driven merger of China's two largest train makers, is among a large group of the country's rail firms that has inked an accord for the project with XpressWest, a venture set up by Las Vegas-based hotel and casino developer Marnell Companies. Investment terms weren't disclosed.
Gary Wong, a Hong Kong-based analyst at brokerage Guotai Junan, estimated that the project could be worth $5 billion. He said that although it would likely offer the many Chinese firms involved little financial benefit, it was significant for their long-term goals.
"If this opens up the U.S. market for them, opportunities for future expansion will increase. And if (their technology) is used in the United States, it will be easier for them to sell to other countries," he said.
CRRC is leading China's aggressive pursuit of overseas high-speed rail deals in competition with traditional suppliers such as Germany's Siemens AG and France's Alstom SA. Beijing recently clinched contracts in Russia, although it has faced hurdles in Mexico and Indonesia due to bureaucratic flip-flops in those countries.
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