Macquarie sells remaining stake in BrisConnections

Having managed and underwritten its initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange, the Australian investment bank has now sold the last of its remaining shares in the consortium to build and operate A$4.8bn of infrastructure projects in Brisbane.

Macquarie Group has sold its remaining 7.2 percent interest in BrisConnections, a consortium building an airport toll road and related projects in Brisbane costing A$4.9 billion (€2.6 billion; $3.3 billion), according to a regulatory filing.

The sale marks a final exit from an investment that has seen its fortunes steadily decline in the public markets. Since the Australian investment bank helped BrisConnections debut on the Australian Stock Exchange on 31 July, acting as the sole book-runner to its initial public offering, its shares have steadily plummeted from $A1.0 per share on debut to now about  $A.001, the price at which Macquarie unloaded its remaining shares.

At 31 July, Macquarie owned under various affiliates 60.4 million BrisConnections shares, according to a regulatory filing.

Brisbane Airport Link: to
be constructed

Since then, Macquarie has gradually sold down its interest as BrisConnections’ share price declined. Meanwhile, the company cut and deferred the payout it had promised to investors in September for the period ending 31 December 2008 from 5.95 cents per unit to .05 cents per unit, citing “a significant deterioration in world equity and financial markets”.

Any losses from the sales may be at least partially offset by Macquarie’s fees from BrisConnections’ IPO, which reportedly topped A$100 million. The IPO was fully underwritten by Macquarie Capital Advisers, Credit Suisse Australia, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Australia.

Aside from the A$1.2 billion BrisConnections raised from its IPO, the company has been syndicating an A$3.15 term loan to fund its activities. The Queensland government had also committed A$1.5 billion toward the infrastructure project.

Additionally, future installments of A$1.0 per share are due from investors in April 2009 and January 2010 in order to receive distributions, according to a BrisConnections investor presentation from September.

Macquarie Capital Group, a subsidiary of the Australian investment bank, along with Australian construction companies Thiess and John Holland and engineering firms Arup and Parsons Brinckerhoff, formed part of the BrisConnections consortium, which in May was named the preferred bidder for a 45 year concession to build and operate the Airport Link and related projects.

On 6 November BrisConnections began constructions on the Airport Link in Brisbane, celebrating the event with a ceremony attended by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Deputy Premier Paul Lucas.

Construction is expected to last four years.