Alstom, one of the world's largest infrastructure equipment providers, is in advanced talks with mainland authorities on setting up six joint ventures in a concerted push into the mainland market. The firm, formerly known as GEC-Alsthom, adopted its new name after becoming a public company in June. Former HSBC Holdings chairman Sir William Purves is the company's vice-chairman. Alstom president for China, Martin David, in Hong Kong yesterday on the last leg of a promotional tour, said: 'We have not only sold into China but also invested in China.' At least three of the six possible joint ventures would begin operations by the end of this year. The planned ventures covered all the company's product lines, including power-generation equipment, transmission and distribution systems, rail and transport systems and industrial equipment. Alstom has two joint ventures in Tianjin - one producing hydraulic turbines and generators, and the other providing power plant and network management services. One potential venture involves the supply of switching gear for power transmission, which would capitalise on growing demand for such equipment as the Three Gorges Project came on line. A key project is a 1,500 kilometre set of lines carrying three gigawatts from the Three Gorges to the Shanghai region - one of the world's biggest high-voltage-direct-current transmission projects, Mr David said. He said Alstom intended to bid for Three Gorges-Shanghai transmission - which would cost US$800 million. Bids would be invited in mid-October, with results to be announced in three months. Alstom was supplying eight of the 14 turbines for the Three Gorges Dam's generating system in contracts worth $212 million. Of the dam's 26 generators, foreign operators were allowed to supply only the first 14. Mr David said the mainland represented about 5 per cent of Alstom's $16 billion global sales last year and accounted for almost a quarter of sales in Asia. Orders on hand reached $21 billion. Mr David said Alstom's main engine of growth had been power generation, with about 22 per cent of the market, but transmission and distribution as well as the transport sector would be its future growth areas. Alstom holds about 11 per cent of the mainland's transmission and distribution market. It provides metro cars for Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway Corp and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp. 'The problem for China is not power operation, but power distribution and transmission,' Mr David said. Provincial connection and transmission were far from efficient. Mr David said the company had not been affected by Asia's crisis, as attempts by regional governments to boost economies through infrastructure spending had increased demand. Alstom was also engaged in a number of technology transfers and had a memorandum of understanding with the mainland.