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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Toll to quit Cambodia rail plans

By Lindsay Murdoch
AUSTRALIAN company Toll Group is set to pull out of a controversial $145 million project to rebuild Cambodia's railways, reliable sources in Cambodia say.

Under an agreement signed in 2009, Toll and a Cambodian joint venture partner were to operate the railways for 30 years.

The project, partly funded by the Australian aid agency AusAid, has been at the centre of claims that up to 4000 people living along the tracks are not being fully compensated for having to move. A Toll spokesman declined to comment.

The rebuilding of two decrepit rail lines linking the capital, Phnom Penh, with a southern port and with the Thai border in the west is strategically important.

They were seen as part of a planned inter-country rail network linking Singapore and China through Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The Toll Group had a 30-year contract in a joint venture with well-connected Cambodian businessman Kith Meng through his Royal Group of companies.

In November last year, Fairfax Media reported that a 13-year-old girl and her nine year-old brother drowned in a deep pool four days after their family was uprooted from their home and moved to a resettlement site so work could begin on the railway.
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China to continue helping Cambodia with infrastructure

BATTAMBANG - China will continue to help Cambodia with its infrastructure and raise living standard of its people, said Pan Guangxue, Chinese ambassador to Cambodia here Monday.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of Cambodia's 57 national road Battambang-Pailing section in Battambang, Pan said "The completion of the road will help elevate the country's regional economic development, especially in terms of agricultural product export, and also heighten the local people's living standard."

He noted that the 103-kilometer road, which links Battambang with Pailing on the borders with Thailand is seen as one of the traffic arteries in the kingdom's northwestern region.

The populous Battambang province, some 280 kilometers northwest of the capital city of Phnom Penh, is a major rice and fruit producer in the kingdom, better transport facilities will make farm products from the area more readily available to neighboring countries, including China, the ambassador said.

On behalf of the Cambodian government and Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng expressed gratitude to China's assistance in the kingdom's infrastructure construction.

The Cambodian government has given high priority to infrastructure construction, including road, electricity, and irritation facilities, in a bid to promote regional economic development and people's living standard, he said.

"The completion of the No. 57 national road with China's assistance will surely upgrade the transportation and communication with neighboring nations and reduce the local people's transport costs," he added.

Started in November 2008, the construction of 103-km road is financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and undertaken by China Road and Bridge Corporation.
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John A. Pike joins Cambodian law firm

UK barrister to drive growth at Sciaroni & Associates

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Mar 12, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- John A. Pike has joined Phnom Penh-based Sciaroni & Associates as Managing Partner, Senior Partner Bretton G. Sciaroni announced today.

Pike has extensive experience in commercial and investment banking and in the shipping industry in London, Tokyo, and Frankfurt, and for the last 10 years has been a practicing barrister-at-law in London. He has lived and worked in Cambodian since 2009 as an adviser to on agricultural development with VSO UK, a UK non-governmental organization.

Pike has business experience in most European countries, Asia, South and North America and also worked for the UK Government's Serious Fraud Office.

An Oxford-educated economist with practical knowledge and experience of international investment, among other experiences he has advised on a $150 billion portfolio for a major international bank. He is registered with the English Bar Council and is a member of Lincoln's Inn, specializing in commercial law, banking law and fraud.

"We are extremely fortunate to have a legal expert of John's caliber join our firm at a pivotal moment in the growth and expansion of our business," said Sciaroni.

"His expertise in key areas of law, particularly in all areas of banking, capital markets and dispute resolution, provides Sciaroni & Associates with valuable tools which will prove to be enormous assets to our clients and their business interests in Cambodian, and throughout Southeast Asia.

"John's qualifications in law, economics, arbitration, financial management and mediation add powerful skills to the firm."

Pike's published academic work includes a groundbreaking analysis of the English anti-Trust Law on 'price-fixing' criminal cartels that was extensively reviewed in high profile international cases in the British Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. In 2013, he is due to publish a lengthy academic volume on the historical origins and credibility of international law, in the context of international relations and 'realpolitik'.

In addition to his business and law experience, Pike has over two years' experience working for several NGOs in the agricultural sector, advising on commercial, management, and legal matters in a dozen provinces in Cambodia. He also served as a member of the training team that helped prepare the new Cambodian government's Anti-Corruption Unit prior to the enactment of the Anti Corruption Law 2010.

"I am delighted to be joining Sciaroni & Associates, with its strong track record of providing local knowledge combined with international excellence in legal advice to blue chip global corporations," said John Pike. "I look forward to working with partners Bretton Sciaroni and Matthew Rendall and a wonderful team of Cambodian and international professionals in extending the range and quality of legal services for new and existing clients in Cambodia's dynamic economy, as well as in Laos and Myanmar."

About Sciaroni & Associates

Sciaroni & Associates is a leading legal and professional services firm based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, providing advice and business insight since 1993 to many of the world's leading companies as well as to the Royal Government of Cambodia. Senior Partner Bretton G. Sciaroni has nearly 20 years of experience advising clients in Cambodia and is a leading contributor to the development of the Cambodian economy. Managing Partner Matthew Rendall has worked in Cambodia since 1994 and has extensive property and labor law expertise as well as in general investment structuring. Managing Partner John Pike has more than 25 years of banking, investment and legal experience in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. The firm provides guidance in all facets of law and investment, including capital markets, infrastructure investment, banking and finance, oil, gas and mining, dispute resolution, company creation, licensing, labor, property and government relations. Additional details may be obtained via the firm's website at www.sa-cambodia.com .

SOURCE: Sciaroni & Associates
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