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A Public-Private Partnerships in Construction (PPP or P3) refers to a contractual agreement wherein government agencies collaborate with private companies to undertake significant infrastructure projects. These partnerships enable governments to access private funding for the completion of large-scale endeavors such as roads, arenas, hospitals, or broadband networks.

While P3s are gaining popularity in the U.S., their acceptance still varies significantly by state. In New York, for example, Empire State Development has established a specific provision to facilitate P3 projects on a case-by-case basis, though the state is not yet considered fully “P3-ready.” Nevertheless, many regions acknowledge that P3s can effectively leverage private expertise, funding, and risk tolerance to address the extensive demand for infrastructure renewal across the U.S.

This article will explore the progression of P3 projects from pre planning to closeout, examine the different organizational structures they may assume, and discuss the challenges and benefits associated with employing a P3 framework for delivering infrastructure assets.

Understanding Public-Private Partnerships in Construction (PPPs) in Construction

Public-Private Partnerships in Construction, or P3s, entail extended contractual agreements between government agencies and private entities, focusing on the construction, operation, and maintenance of new public assets. Below, we’ll delve into the phases of construction involved in projects under public-private partnerships.


The initial phase of a P3 project encompasses preplanning steps inherent in any new asset development. The public agency conducts a needs analysis, feasibility study, cost projection, and risk assessment, subsequently recognizing P3 as the optimal setup for the project.

The public agency conducts an analysis of the asset’s value and devises a plan for a competitive process to identify a private entity partner for the project.

Typically, the private entity constitutes a joint venture among multiple investors specifically created for the project. This joint venture seeks financing, often from various lenders, with complex financing structures involving debt, equity, and bonds being common.

Private Partnerships in Construction
Private Partnerships in Construction


The procurement process for contractors in P3 projects follows a similar trajectory to those using other agreements. The public agency determines realistic requirements and specifications for the asset, project duration, and desired outcomes, issuing a Request for Qualification (RFQ) followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP) to qualified bidders.

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After contracting with a private entity, the latter will bid out to a designer and builder, who may or may not be part of the financing entity. In large infrastructure P3s, the bidding-to-design process for construction firms often occurs concurrently with the Private Partnerships in Construction. Major trades may also be included in this process.

The contractor, often a joint venture of multiple building firms, completes the construction phase. Following project completion, another contract covers the asset’s operation, with the public agency typically retaining ownership, and both partners sharing the resulting income.

The relationships forged during P3 projects can span decades, sometimes up to 50 years, as asset operation and maintenance persist. Selecting the right contacts and creating extensive contracts for the work are integral aspects.

Due to the complexity and early workload in P3 projects, it’s customary for all involved parties to seek out familiar partners. Both the public entity and private firms involved may opt for designers, lending and equity partners, contractors, and subcontractors with whom they have previously collaborated. Time-tested contractual processes and procedures are often relied upon, although the process generally aligns with the private entity bid.


Undertaking Extensive Construction

The intricacies of P3s can be bewildering due to contracting, subcontracting, and partnerships in joint ventures. Constructing large projects involves numerous interconnected relationships and governing structures. However, fundamentally, a P3 project shares similarities with any other construction project.

Just like any project, an owner conceptualizes a structure, undergoes the necessary steps to assess feasibility and determine the optimal location for the asset, and subsequently selects a contractor for the construction. In the case of P3s, additional steps involve identifying partners for financing and ultimately operating the asset.

Benefits of P3 Contracts

P3s are gaining increased popularity for large-scale infrastructure projects. Recent noteworthy examples include the Goethals Bridge in Staten Island and the redevelopment of New York’s LaGuardia Airport Terminal B. However, it’s only in the past decade or so that the United States has more frequently utilized P3 arrangements. What attracts stakeholders?

Private Sector Financing

A primary advantage of P3s for a public agency initiating a new construction program is private sector financing. There is no need to finance a project through toll funds, taxes, or public borrowing, and the majority of risk is transferred to the private sector. The public entity seeks a partnership with a private entity to deliver the asset.

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In most cases, the entity is not a singular business but a specially created private entity designed for funding the specific project at hand. The Private Partnerships in Construction comprises a group of investors connected through joint venture agreements. This arrangement is politically beneficial and preserves public funds for other purposes.

Built-in Performance Incentives

Another advantage for public agencies in P3s is the potential for lower costs and higher service levels than the public agency could achieve independently. P3 agreements typically offer financial rewards to the private partner for efficiency. Since the private entity often profits from the asset’s operation, there is motivation to expedite profitability.

P3 structures also incentivize stringent cost controls. Payment schedules are usually established before construction commences, encouraging cost-effective building and wider profit margins for the private company.

Risk Sharing

Construction contracts delineate how parties involved will share any project-related risk. P3s generally shift more risk away from the public agency and onto the private sector. The private entity partner assumes most of the responsibility for the asset’s design, construction, and operation. They often attempt to cap the risk by securing funding through insurance coverage or other means.

For instance, in a P3 agreement to build a toll road, the private entity assumes the risk from potential weather events and regulatory changes. Contract clauses may outline risk-sharing in case the road proves highly utilized and generates sufficient revenue for maintenance. The private entity partner may further mitigate risk by obtaining insurance for significant weather events causing delays in asset utilization and, consequently, revenue generation.

Best Practices for P3 Execution

How can a successful P3 project be achieved? As with any project, success hinges on robust collaboration, continuous communication, and effective project risk management.

Collaborate with trusted partners

Every construction project carries inherent risk. Mitigate uncertainty by collaborating with familiar entities—partnering with known and trusted design firms, lenders, and equity partners, adhering to time-tested contractual processes, and involving reputable subcontractors can reduce risk and instill confidence.

Collaborate with trusted partners
Collaborate with trusted partners

Strategically allocate risk

Contracts should clearly and definitively assign risk between project partners at the project’s outset. Responsibility for additional costs resulting from changes to project plans or schedules is often allocated based on the party responsible for the change.

In P3 agreements extending through asset operation and maintenance cycles, one risk is that the completed asset may not generate the expected income. This risk should be assigned to the party best equipped to bear it—typically the private sector entity, which often assumes risks that would normally rest with the project owner. Revenue risk may vary based on the reason for the revenue discrepancy.

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For instance, in the toll road example mentioned earlier, acceptable risk amounts would be outlined by the public agency and the private sector entity. If the expected toll road revenue was $1 per day, but only $0.90 per day is generated, the contract should specify whether the private entity accepts the $0.10 revenue differential.

In jurisdictions lacking a universally accepted P3 contract, additional negotiations may be necessary.

Secure appropriate surety bonds

Surety bonds safeguard all parties from various risks, including financial loss and political changes. P3 partners can protect themselves by requiring contractors to obtain surety, ensuring the contractors will deliver the work as contracted.

Surety bonds offer protection by independently assessing the contractor’s ability to fulfill the contract and meet obligations. In the event of a contractor default, the surety can provide funds to complete the contract, satisfy claims from subcontractors and suppliers, and deliver a finished, viable project.

Asia Pacific Projects: Your Partner in Streamlining Due Diligence for Construction Projects

In the dynamic landscape of construction, navigating the complexities of Public-Private Partnerships in Construction (P3) and large-scale infrastructure projects demands precision and efficiency. APPMVN emerges as a reliable ally, offering comprehensive due diligence services to empower your company during the bidding process.

At Asia Pacific Projects, we understand the critical importance of thorough due diligence, we aim to enhance your ability to save valuable time and make informed decisions, ultimately optimizing your project’s success. Explore the link to discover how APPMVN can be instrumental in streamlining your due diligence processes.

From private sector financing strategies to built-in performance incentives and risk-sharing mechanisms, our services align with the intricacies of P3 contracts, ensuring a seamless and efficient bidding experience. Partner with APPMVN to navigate the intricate landscape of construction projects confidently. Save time, mitigate risks, and elevate the success of your bids with our tailored due diligence services.

Please send information or requests that you need to consult for Asia Pacific Projects via:

NGUYEN THI HIEU | Local Relations

Mobile phone: +84 918 331 489


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