In what could be the biggest syndicated loan in Taiwan’s history, the government may refinance the T$390bn ($11.9bn) debt-ridden rail operator Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR), Reuters reports.

The unlisted government-backed Bank of Taiwan is the front runner for the deal, which if signed in November 2009 would replace two existing syndicated loans and a convertible bond.

The rail operator has been incurring consecutive losses which it says is due to high interest rate repayments arising from a T$323.3bn loan it took in 2000 for rail construction.

The rail operator’s biggest shareholder, Taiwan’s Ministry of Transport, declined to confirm any details, but did confirm that the operator was in talks with the bank and that the transaction would be completed by the end of the year.