* State-owned Queensland Motorways valued by analysts at
around A$5 bln
* Three global investment consortia planning to make
indicative bids - sources
* Australia state govts on privatisation drive
(Adds details on divestment programmes, comment from legal
By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY, Feb 6 Three investment consortia - two
involving Gulf Arab government-owned funds - plan to lodge
indicative bids for Australian state-owned toll road company
Queensland Motorways Ltd on Friday, sources close to the
The sale, estimated by analysts to fetch about A$5 billion
($4.5 billion), would further the push by Australian state
governments to sell off large infrastructure assets to pay for
capital works programmes.
State governments, once hesitant to give up tax revenue by
selling infrastructure, appear to have had a change of heart
since the state of New South Wales sold its desalination plant
for $2.3 billion in 2012.
"What this is all about is asset recycling," Robert Clarke,
a partner at law firm Corrs Chambers Wesgarth who specialises in
infrastructure transactions, told Reuters.
"The thinking is... the proceeds of divestment will be
plowed back into new infrastructure, which then, once it is
operating, those assets will be divested," he added.
The bidders for Queensland Motorways include a consortium
led by Australia's Hastings Funds Management which also includes
sovereign wealth fund the Kuwait Investment Authority, Spanish
toll road operator Abertis Infraestructuras and Dutch
pension fund APG Algemene Pensioen Groep, said two sources close
to the deal who could not be identified as the negotiations were
Transurban Group, a major toll road operator in New
South Wales and Victoria states, will team up with
superannuation fund AustralianSuper and state-run Abu Dhabi
Investment Authority to make another bid.
A third bid will involve IFM Investors, which is owned by 30
Australian superannuation funds, with Canada's Ontario Teachers'
Pension Plan and Borealis Infrastructure, the sources said.
Queensland Investment Corp, the government body selling the
70 km (43 mile) toll road network, said first round bids were
due on Friday and would not comment further.
Other parties either declined to comment or were not
immediately available to comment.
INFRASTRUCTURE IN DEMAND
Infrastructure assets such as toll roads, power stations and
ports are in hot demand from pension funds and other investors
for their stable, long-run returns and tough barriers to
competition, particularly in highly regulated developed
countries such as Australia.
A consortium of Hastings and the Ontario Teachers Pension
Plan bought the New South Wales desalination plant two years
New South Wales is also in the last stages of selling its
largest electricity utility, Macquarie Generation, for about
A$1.5 billion. It plans to use the proceeds to fund motorway
projects in Sydney's west.
The Queensland government transferred Queensland Motorways
to Queensland Investment Corp in 2011 as it primed the asset for
sale in its A$15 billion "Renewing Queensland Plan". Queensland
Motorways bought the 6.8 km Clem Jones tunnel out of
receivership for A$618 million last year.
($1 = 1.1214 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)