Port of Virginia bid reviews to get underway in Q1

Pending the completion of an operating lease with APM, the Virginia Secretary of Transportation will announce his picks for an independent review panel to evaluate the three bids the port received last year from The Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs and CenterPoint Properties.

The Port of Virginia is poised to move ahead soon with the evaluation of three historic bids it received last year for the operation and management of its port assets, according to a senior port executive.

Jeff Keever, the Port’s Senior Deputy Executive for External Affairs, told InfrastructureInvestor a selection of an independent review committee for the bids should be complete by the end of the first quarter of this year.

The port is in discussions with APM, the international port terminal operator, about an operating lease for its terminal at the port, Keever said. The terminal, located in Portsmouth, is one of four existing terminals located at the Port, which are operated by a publicly owned company called Virginia International Terminals. The operating lease would put Virginia International Terminals in charge of APM’s terminal, giving it control over all of the port’s terminal assets.

The discussions over the lease are expected to conclude this quarter, Keever said. Once they’ve concluded, the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Sean Connaughton, will announce his picks for the independent review committee for the bids. The announcement is also expected in the first quarter, Keever added.

Last year, private equity firm The Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners-backed marine terminal operator Carrix, and Chicago-based industrial real estate manager CenterPoint Properties submitted proposals to the port to operate its existing port terminals and to aid the development of a new terminal in Craney Island.

After all the bids were disclosed in August 2009, then-Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer was to appoint, designate a chair and schedule meetings for such a panel to evaluate the proposals.

However, because there was an upcoming gubernatorial election, Homer didn’t appoint a review panel and handed off the responsibility to the new administration. In November, Republican Bob McDonnell won the election and took over as governor 16 January.

The Commonwealth has, however, hired some advisors for the review. Law firm DLA Piper will serve as the legal advisor for the Commonwealth.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation did not return a call seeking comment before press time.