Melbourne port sold for US$7.3 billion
AN Australian-led consortium has won a 50-year lease on the nation’s biggest container and cargo port for A$9.7 billion (US$7.3 billion), the latest maritime asset to be privatised.
The Port of Melbourne, which deals with more than 3000 ships annually, was snapped up by a consortium including Australia’s secondlargest wholesale funds manager the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) and multinational firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).
The Australian newspaper reported that GIP was acting partly on behalf of China’s sovereign wealth fund CIC Capital, which it said had effectively secured 20 percent of the port.
The price tag was well above expectations, with the Victorian state government initially expecting A$6 billion for one of Australasia’s largest maritime hubs for containerised, automotive and general cargo.
“The lease, worth in excess of A$9.7 billion, reflects strong bidder interest and the port’s value, as the biggest container and cargo port in the country,” the Victorian state government said.
A large chunk of the proceeds of the sale, which has been approved by regulators, will be spent on regional and rural infrastructure projects.
“Regional Victoria will be big winners from the lease, with significant funding to support projects they need, like better roads, and irrigation and energy projects,” said state treasurer Tim Pallas.
“Leasing the port reinforces Victoria’s position as the freight and logistics capital of Australia and will make a great port even better.”
A string of major Australian ports has been privatised in recent years, including the world’s biggest coal export port in Newcastle which was secured on a 98-year lease by an Australian and Chinese consortium in 2014 for A$1.75 billion.
That deal followed the long-term lease of Sydney’s Port Botany and Port Kembla further south, with money earmarked for infrastructure projects. –