SYDNEY, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Two consortiums of Western infrastructure investors are poised to lodge final bids of up to A$7 billion ($5.26 billion) for Australia’s biggest general cargo terminal, Port of Melbourne, by a Friday deadline, advisers to the bidders said.
The absence of Chinese bidders for the terminal in Australia’s second-biggest city removes a potential political headache for Canberra, which angered Beijing last month by rejecting Chinese bids for a power network on security grounds.
The first group, led by IFM Investors Pty Ltd, Australia’s biggest pension fund investor, also includes Macquarie Group’s Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and Dutch pension fund manager APG Asset Management NV.
The second group, led by QIC Private Capital Pty Ltd, the investment arm of the Queensland state government, includes Australia’s sovereign Future Fund, New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners, Canada’s Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.
Advisers to the two groups, who would not be named for reasons of client confidentiality, said bids would be submitted on Friday and would fall in the range of A$6 billion to A$7 billion.
The Port of Melbourne is being offered on a 50-year lease by the Victorian state government and both potential bidders in August received approval from Australia’s competition regulator to proceed with their offers.
A spokesman for Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the result of the sales process was expected to be announced by the end of the month.
The sell-off is part of Australia’s more than A$100 billion privatisation programme, where state and federal governments are trying to cut debt and bankroll capital works by selling “mature” infrastructure assets.
Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison last month rejected bids for electricity distributor Ausgrid from Chinese state-owned group State Grid and privately run Hong Kong group Cheung Kong Infrastructure, citing national security concerns. ($1 = 1.3305 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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