QIC, John Laing in A$6.8bn Aussie PPP

The firms are part of the consortium that will develop and operate Victoria’s East West Link road project, for which it will contribute A$3.3bn.

QIC and John Laing are among the firms that have been chosen to design, build, finance and operate the East West Link Stage 1 (EWL) toll road and tunnel project in Melbourne, Australia.

The winning consortium, East West Connect, also includes developers Lend Lease, Acciona and Bouygues as well as Sydney-based Capella Capital, financial adviser and bid leader on the deal.

Total costs of the project, one of the largest public-private partnerships (PPP) ever awarded in the country, are estimated at A$6.8 billion (€4.7 billion; $6.0 billion). The state of Victoria and Australia’s federal government will respectively foot A$2 billion and A$1.5 billion of the bill, with East West Connect due to contribute the remaining A$3.3 billion.

EWL will connect Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway with the CityLink motorway over a distance of 6.6 kilometres (km), including twin 4.4km three-lane tunnels. The road is projected to cater for around 80,000 vehicles shortly after opening and 100,000 to 120,000 vehicles in 2031.

It will operate under a 30-year availability-based concession, comprising a construction period of about five years and 25 years of operations. A joint venture between Lend Lease, Bouygues and Acciona will be in charge of construction, which is scheduled to complete by 2019.

EWL is not the first major road asset backed by QIC, which owned Queenland Motorways, operator of a 70km road network, between 2011 and 2014. The company was sold to a consortium comprising Transurban, AustralianSuper and Tawreed Investments for A$7.057 billion last April.

The deal comes amid news that the A$75 billion firm is in advanced discussions with investors about the launch of a potential $1.5 billion vehicle.

Earlier this week, it also announced the opening of an office in New York where Vittoria Lacagnina, newly hired to lead the firm’s infrastructure fundraising efforts, will be based.