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Private consortium lands Port of Melbourne lease
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Private consortium lands Port of Melbourne lease

With a private consortium securing the bid for a 50-year lease for the Port of Melbourne, expansion of a major Victorian trade hub pushes on.

Firms: Herbert Smith Freehills (‘Lonsdale Consortium’ comprising the Future Fund, QIC, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and OMERS); MinterEllison (State of Victoria); King & Wood Mallesons (Financers comprising 17 banks)

Deal:  The Victorian state government has granted a 50 year lease of the Port of Melbourne to the Lonsdale Consortium.

Value: AUD $9.7 billion

Area: Infrastructure, Project Finance

Key players: The HSF team advising the Lonsdale Consortium was led by partners Peter Butler and Robert Nicholson. Specialist teams from across the firm’s corporate, finance, regulatory, disputes, employment, environment and real estate practice areas also assisted.

The MinterEllison team advising the Victorian government was led by partners Peter Block and Andrew Rentoul. Partners Geoff Carter, Antra Hood, Anthony Poynton, Mark Standen, Lloyd Baggott and special counsel Richard Campbell also assisted with the deal.

The KWM team advising the financers in the deal was led by partner Claire Rogers (pictured), with assistance from solicitor Amy Maguire.

Deal significance:

The Victorian government has granted a 50 year lease of the Port of Melbourne to a private consortium (Lonsdale Cosortium) comprising the Future Fund, QIC, GIP and OMERS.

The site is Australia’s largest container and cargo port and had the final remaining east coast port to be leased to the private sector.

Granting of the lease follows the announcement of plans to further develop the Victorian trade hub, with construction of a new container handling terminal and automotive facility pending.

HSF advised Lonsdale Consortium on all aspects of the transaction. Partner Peter Butler led the teams involved in the negotiation and documentation of equity arrangements, debt facilities and transaction documents with the State of Victoria.

Mr Butler described the successful bid as an excellent outcome for the consortium in what was a competitive process.

“The deal involved navigating the complexities of the regulatory regime applying to the asset. Our team provided expert advice on the large number of tenancies existing at the port, some with major projects in the development phase,” Mr Butler said.

“Our clients’ global expertise in managing similar assets, combined with their long term development plan for the Port will help support future growth and further improve the productivity of this important asset.”

Credit Suisse and Gresham acted as financial advisers to the consortium.

KWM advised the 17-member bank club to finance the $9.7 billion deal, which involved a fully committed and documented financing package. KWM partner Claire Rogers underscored the significance of the infrastructure project deal, describing it as a “landmark transaction, which represents one of the largest acquisitions in the Australian market this year”.

KWM partner Claire Rogers

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