In­vestors bet $7.3b on No 1 port in Aus­tralia


A group of global in­vestors in­clud­ing QIC Ltd agreed to pay A$9.7 bil­lion ($7.3 bil­lion) to run Aus­tralia’s busiest mar­itime hub for 50 years, bet­ting on steady in­come from the port’s daily stream of con­tain­ers and new­cars.

QIC teamed up with Aus­tralia’s sov­er­eign wealth fund the Fu­ture Fund, Global In­fra­struc­ture Part­ners and Cana­dian pen­sion man­ager Omers to run the Port of Mel­bourne, the group said in a state­ment on Mon­day. The port han­dles about 2.6 mil­lion con­tain­ers an­nu­ally and more than 1,000 ve­hi­cles a day.

The bid topped the Vic­to­ria state govern­ment’s es­ti­mate of A$7 bil­lion. Across Aus­tralia, staterun as­set sales are fetch­ing higher-than-ex­pected prices as yield-hun­gry fund man­agers search for re­cur­ring rev­enue from in­fra­struc­ture busi­nesses.

“To say that this is a good day, and that it was a pleas­ant sur­prise, I think would be a mi­nor un­der­state­ment,” state Trea­surer Tim Pal­las told re­porters in Mel­bourne. “We have maximized the value for the tax­payer.”

The pur­chase of Port of Mel­bourne is a bet on mar­itime trade to and from Aus­tralia even af­ter the col­lapse of Han­jin Ship­ping Co, the South Korean con­tainer line that sought bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion last month.

In Aus­tralia, re­gional gov­ern­ments are sell­ing as­sets to help fund new roads, rail and other pro­jects. Vic­to­ria, the na­tion’s sec­ond-largest state econ­omy, will use the funds to build a new un­der­ground rail tun­nel and re­move 50 rail level cross­ings.

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