Firms: Baker &McKenzie (Harbour City Ferries), Minter Ellison (NSW Department of Transport)
Deal: Bid to operate Sydney Ferries as part of the NSW government’s privatisation plans
Key players: The Bakers team was led by partner David Egan and associate Julien Hamon. Minters Sydney-based finance partner Paul Paxton led the transaction for the state with support from HR/IR partner Gareth Jolly, construction partner Stewart Nankervis, corporate partner Jacinda De Witts, environment and planning partner Duncan McGregor, property partner Virginia Briggs and senior associates Jose de Ponte and Clare Williams.
Deal significance: Sydney Ferries has operated on Sydney Harbour and its waterways for more than 135 years and its fleet of some 30 vessels transports over 14 million people across the Harbour and the Parramatta River each year. In 2011, the Government invited registrations of interest, with pre-qualified bidders then participating in an RFT process to choose the successful operator to provide the ferry services. Minters’ role included drafting service contracts, advising on the tender process, due diligence, evaluation of and negotiation with three private sector consortia in this high-profile and politically-sensitive project. "This complex project required a deep understanding of the Government’s commercial drivers as well as the need for close coordination and sensitive consultation with a range of government departments, local authorities and key stakeholders,” said Paxton, adding that the transaction successfully completed five months ahead of schedule.
NSW Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian said the new operator was selected based on the best package of approaches to improving customer service, safety, operations, maintenance and management of the Sydney Ferries workforce. The colours and name of Sydney Ferries will be retained and existing services and fares will continue as normal. Under the franchise model the NSW Government will retain ownership of Sydney Ferries’ existing vessels and the Balmain Shipyard, and will retain full control over fares and service levels.