Hopewell Holdings says the devaluation of the Thai baht has pushed the cost of its US$3.2 billion Bangkok elevated road and train system (Berts) project up 15 per cent, forcing a reassessment of the venture's financing. Managing director Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, after meeting Thai government officials yesterday, said the project now would cost US$3.7 billion instead of the US$3.2 billion originally planned. This week Hopewell sold its remaining 19.99 per cent stake in Consolidated Electric Power Asia, a move many analysts said was taken to generate extra cash for the Berts project. Hopewell's shares - which have been buoyed recently by talk of a mainland-backed entity taking a stake in the company - fell 15 cents to $15.15. Sir Gordon confirmed to Thai authorities that the project would not be ready in time for the Asian games in Bangkok in December next year, its original deadline for completion. 'The situation has changed because of the decline of the economic climate [in Thailand] and is further exacerbated by the devaluation of the baht,' Hopewell said. 'Funding for any project in Thailand is now harder. 'In addition, the downturn of the real-estate market and low-fare structure of the community train has reduced future revenues and project costs have increased. 'The international banks, who are committed to the project, now need to reassess the project financing structure.' In return for building the infrastructure, Hopewell is to receive revenues from property developments along the route. Sir Gordon is reportedly flying to London next week to drum up interest in the 36-kilometre venture, designed to ease Bangkok's chronic traffic problems. 'The project has had many delays over the years due to frequent changes in government and design changes,' Hopewell said. Commissioned in 1991, construction is still only about 20 per cent complete. So far Berts has been wholly financed by Hopewell. The company has spent US$560 million on design, construction and fees, with no return so far, Sir Gordon said. The Thai Government has in the past threatened to impose fines on Hopewell should the project fail to be completed in time for the Asian games, but the company last month said the authorities had agreed to waive this sanction. Thailand's transport and communications minister Suwat Liptapallop was quoted earlier this week as saying he would cancel the project if Hopewell could not finish at least one of the Berts phases before the games. Hopewell appeared to brush off such concerns, reaffirming its commitment to the project. It said it believed there were 'solutions that will enable the parties to overcome present difficulties'.