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Campbell’s new firm pursues Burma contract

A consulting firm run by the State Department’s recently departed top Asia official has just joined a bid for a huge contract to revamp the largest airport in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Kurt Campbell, the recently departed assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, started a new consulting firm called the ...

By , a former staff writer at Foreign Policy.
HLA HLA HTAY/AFP/Getty Images
HLA HLA HTAY/AFP/Getty Images
HLA HLA HTAY/AFP/Getty Images

A consulting firm run by the State Department’s recently departed top Asia official has just joined a bid for a huge contract to revamp the largest airport in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Kurt Campbell, the recently departed assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, started a new consulting firm called the Asia Group with his former deputy assistant secretary Nirav Patel. On Monday, the ACO Investment Group (ACO), a collection of mostly American firms who have joined forces, announced that the Asia Group will join its consortium to try to secure the contract to upgrade and modernize the Yangon International Airport, which was built in 1947.

"This is a thrilling opportunity to help advance the progress Myanmar has made over the past couple years by enhancing prospects for economic investments, and ensuring connectivity for Myanmar with ASEAN and the world," Campbell saod in the release. "We are pleased to join the ACO Consortium in their strong bid to renovate Yangon International Airport. The other members of the consortium include the most dynamic visionaries in the aviation and infrastructure fields with a demonstrated track record, and we are confident that their expertise and track record will be critical to help rebuild Yangon International Airport as a critical transit hub."

Campbell will lead a trip to Myanmar early next month with other consortium members to pitch the ACO bid. Other American consortium members include Boeing Professional Services, Burns & McDonnell Engineering, Fentress Architects, the MITRE Corporation, and Unison Consulting. The consortium also includes McKinsey and Co. out of Hong Kong, and Myint Mo Oo General Services, a trading company based in Myanmar.

ACO is one of 11 pre-qualified consortia that will bid for the airport project, which is expected to double the airport’s capacity to handle an estimated 5.5 million passengers per year.

Campbell was the State Department’s point man on engagement with Myanmar and traveled to the country several times as part of the Obama administration’s policy of engagement, which eventually led to an easing of U.S. sanctions. The ACO consortium is clearly interested in capitalizing on that work.

"Kurt Campbell is widely regarded as one of the key architects of the United States’ efforts to engage and normalize relations with Myanmar," ACO said in the release.

Josh Rogin is a former staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshrogin

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