Tinkler ponders bid for Abbot Point terminal
Date: 8th Mar 2011
FORGET the Newcastle Knights, Nathan Tinkler is believed to be considering a tilt at the $1.5 billion Abbot Point Coal Terminal being sold by the Queensland government.
The mining electrician turned billionaire entrepreneur is looking at teaming up with engineering and operational groups that could help him run the port. Tinkler's funding plans remain unclear but he is likely to seek help from Asian investors for financial backing.
It's not his first foray into ports -- the Tinkler-backed development company Buildev is working on plans to build a coal loading terminal in Newcastle.
While Canada's Brookfield Infrastructure Group has been touted as the front-runner in the auction for the 99-year lease to operate the terminal, Tinkler and a consortium of financial buyers including Hong Kong infrastructure group CKI are among other likely bidders. (Word is Deutsche Bank's RREEF infrastructure fund, which did not make the initial shortlist, may have joined the financial buyers' consortium.)
Volumes at the terminal are expected to more than double in the next five years, from 21 million tonnes this year to 50 million tonnes by 2016.
Queensland government advisers at Royal Bank of Scotland, Rothschild and Merrill Lynch have pushed the timetable for the sale back by a couple of weeks because of the floods. Final bids are now due in the first week of April.
The advisers last year sold Port of Brisbane at near its $2.5bn book value despite the asset really attracting two serious bidders. (A consortium including Global Infrastructure Partners, Industry Funds Management and QIC edged out Morgan Stanley's infrastructure fund.)
Abbot Point is expected to attract between 1.1 and 1.3 times its regulated asset book value.
A sale price closer to $2bn had initially been touted when the process was launched. However, it's believed $1.5bn would be a good result.
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