On June 26 the Mexican government accepted the bid by Grupo Ferroviario Mexicano SA for a 50-year concession to run the Ferrocarril Pacifico – Norte. As expected, GFM was the sole bidder, offering 4·197bn pesos for the 6200 km network and the Ojinaga – Topolobampo section of the Chihuahua – Pacific Railway. Mexican National Railways confirmed that GFM complied ’wholly and satisfactorily’ with all the requirements of the privatisation process. GFM is a joint venture of Grupo Mexico SA, which owns 76%, Empresas ICA SA and Union Pacific, each of which holds 12%.Three days earlier, on June 23, Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana formally took control of Mexico’s Ferrocarril Noreste in a ceremony at Monterrey attended by President Ernesto Zedillo and other government officials. Several hundred guests witnessed the transfer of Mexico’s first railway to be privatised. A short time later the first TFM train moved south into Mexico via the International Bridge at Laredo, Texas. TFM is a joint venture of Transportación Maritima Mexicana and Kansas City Southern Industries. Executive Vice President Brad Skinner says that the concessionaire will invest around US$40m on capital improvements to the right-of-way during the rest of 1997. Additional money will be allocated to rolling stock, locomotives, and end-of-train devices; Noreste currently owns 371 locos and 10665 wagons. Skinner said TFM expects US-Mexico trade to increase by 17% a year, excluding any business won to rail from road. o
THE Australian government has unveiled its plan to force tech giants such as Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for their content. Facebook and Google strongly oppose the proposal, even suggesting they could walk away from Australia’s news market. Frydenberg said the code of conduct – drafted by Australia’s competition regulator – would be debated by parliament. The code will initially focus on Google and Facebook but could be expanded to other tech companies, the treasurer said. (BBC) It could impose “substantial penalties” worth hundreds of millions of dollars on tech companies which fail to comply, he said. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the “world-leading” draft code of conduct aimed to give publishers “a level playing field to ensure a fair go.” Many news outlets have shut or shed jobs this year amid falling profits.