Early Feb deadline for Queensland Motorways bids

QIC’s multi-billion-dollar divestment of infrastructure in and around Brisbane in Australia is expected to complete by the end of April.

QIC Limited (QIC), the Queensland asset manager for institutional investors, has set a deadline of February 7 for offers for Queensland Motorways.

In setting out a timetable between Christmas and New Year, QIC added that a shortlist would be drawn up after the indicative offer phase, with final binding offers to be submitted by mid-April with a view to contractual close by the end of April.

Queensland Motorways comprises a 62-kilometre network of tolled roads, bridges and infrastructure in the Brisbane area including the Gateway, Gateway Extension and Logan motorways, the Go-Between Bridge and the CLEM 7 tunnel.

The Queensland state government transferred Queensland Motorways to QIC in May 2011 for a market-value price of almost A$3.1 billion (€2.0 billion; $2.8 billion). Since then, the business has acquired the Go-Between Bridge and CLEM 7 tolling rights and has signed an agreement to acquire the tolling rights for Brisbane’s Legacy Way tunnel, which is due to commence operation in 2015.

Media reports have suggested that the auction of Queensland Motorways could attract bids of up to A$6 billion. The process is being managed by Macquarie Capital and UBS as joint financial advisers.

QIC manages Queensland Motorways on behalf of Queensland state’s defined benefits pension fund, which pays for the state’s public service superannuation obligations to retiring members. The proceeds of any sale will remain in the fund.

The defined benefit fund is offering bridging finance to bidders, removing the need for them to secure immediate debt finance.

A statement from QIC said any change in ownership would have no impact on existing tolls beyond normal annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases. The tolls are regulated under Queensland Motorways’ franchise agreements with the state government and Brisbane City Council.