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UPDATE 1-Japan government may help Hitachi in UK rail bid-Nikkei

Nov 13 (Reuters) - The Japanese government is considering giving financial support for Hitachi Ltd's bid to win a high-speed railway project order in the UK, the Nikkei reported. The Japanese government would provide a loan through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to a railcar-leasing company that Hitachi plans to establish with a leading British general contractor, the daily said. It is likely to be a syndicated loan involving Japanese private-sector financial institutions, according to the paper. Hitachi has already clinched priority rights to negotiate on the project to upgrade and maintain railcars, but the British government has delayed an official decision, citing fiscal difficulties, the Nikkei said. The British government is likely to decide as early as this month whether to proceed with the project as planned, the business daily said. Hitachi's rivals like Canadian firm Bombardier Inc are seeking to get back in the race by requesting another round of bidding, the newspaper said. The project involves replacing cars on Britain's existing high-speed rail network, built more than three decades ago, and handling maintenance work on the new ones, the daily said. A maximum of 1,400 railcars will be delivered from 2013 through the end of 2018, in the project valued at 7.5 billion pounds, or roughly 1 trillion yen, the Nikkei said. (Reporting by Shravya Jain in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon) Keywords: HITACHI/ (shravya.jain@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 4135 5800; Reuters Messaging: shravya.jain.reuters.com@reuters.net) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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