Transurban’s WestConnex bid in turmoil as NSW sticks to deadline

The government’s decision to keep a 23 July bid deadline for the sale of Sydney Motorway Corp would require Transurban to submit before the competition watchdog issues its ruling on the move in September.

The New South Wales Government has decided not to push back the deadline for final bids on WestConnex, despite the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday delaying a decision on Transurban’s bid until September.

Final bids are due on 23 July, casting doubt on the viability of the bid from Sydney Transport Partners, a consortium led by Transurban.

NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the government would consider conditional bids, leaving the door open for Transurban to submit an offer subject to approval by the ACCC and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

The only other bid for 51 percent of the Sydney Motorway Corporation, the NSW Government-owned entity charged with developing and operating WestConnex, is a consortium led by IFM Investors. That bid does not face the same competition concerns and so would not have to wait until September for ACCC approval.

“The government has a very strong track record of successfully completing a wide range of asset transactions and I am confident in our ability to deliver another excellent result for the people of NSW,” Perrottet said.

The government will “take the time needed” to evaluate the final bids once submitted, he added.

The ACCC formally commenced its review of Transurban’s bid in February 2018 and published a statement of issues on its concerns in May.

Bidders were informed they could engage with the ACCC at the start of the conditional bid phase in December 2017, the NSW Government said.

The A$16.8 billion ($12.5 billion; €10.7 billion) WestConnex project is the largest road construction project in Australia and is being built in three phases. It will comprise 33 kilometres of interconnected toll roads and motorway upgrades.

IFM Investors and Transurban had not responded to requests for comment by time of publication.