Palisade Investment Partners and Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners are understood to have hired advisory firm Gresham as part of their efforts to buy the $1.2bn Port of Geelong.

The Sydney-based advisory firm has plenty of experience working on port assets, having advised the consortium consisting of the Future Fund, QIC, Global Infrastructure Partners and OMERs on their $9.7bn acquisition of a 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne in 2016.

Stonepeak and Palisade are so far the only parties known to be keen on the port, which is for sale through Barrenjoey Capital Partners and Macquarie Capital on behalf of owners Brookfield and State Super.

he thinking is that the Port of Melbourne could face opposition from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. South Australia’s Flinders Port has an eclectic mix of owners, including Equip Super, Spirit Super, Statewide Super, Infrastructure Capital Group and State Super, some of which would not have the funds to embark on an acquisition.

Observers also believe it would be an unusual for Flinders to participate given one of its owners is State Super, which is selling the port asset.

AMP Capital has taken a look, but it is unclear whether it is serious.

The port at Corio Bay in Victoria is the country’s sixth largest based on tonnage and handles over 600 vessel visits annually, with the majority of the shipping linked to the bulk liquid berth at Refinery Pier.

Commodities going through the port include crude oil and petroleum products from Viva Energy’s Geelong refinery at Corio Bay, export grain and woodchips, alumina imports and fertiliser. Some funds are said to be shying away over fossil fuel concerns.

The sale process is in the second phase. Owners hope to sell the port by Christmas.

Geelong Port generates $60m of annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation and the hope of Brookfield and State Super is that it will sell for between 20 and 30 times EBITDA as interest rates remain low and demand for infrastructure assets is strong.

The remaining 50 per cent shareholding of Port of Portland, a deepwater port located between Melbourne and Adelaide, was purchased by Palisade in 2018 from the Utilities Trust of Australia in 2018. At that time, the price paid for the interest equated to about 11 times EBITDA.

Extracted in full from: Palisade, Stonepeak hire Gresham in Port of Geelong bid (theaustralian.com.au)

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