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Ironclad contract for Australian IPO

Ironclad contract for Australian IPO

Corrs Chambers Westgarth has paved the way for the commencement of work on Australia’s largest infrastructure project, Brisbane’s $3.4 billion Airport Link.Corrs advised…

Corrs Chambers Westgarth has paved the way for the commencement of work on Australia’s largest infrastructure project, Brisbane’s $3.4 billion Airport Link.

Corrs advised BrisConnections on the Airport Link deal – a 6.7km multi-lane electronic free-flow toll road with dual 5.25km tunnels – which will be Australia’s largest toll road infrastructure project by design and construction cost.

The contract contains ironclad fixed-price conditions for labour and raw materials. According to a statement released by Corrs, the contract: “cannot be altered to cope with the surging cost of raw materials and a tight labour market.”

“By being able to deliver a seamless, integrated national team we can provide our clients with a rapid response to issues no matter where they occur in the country, harnessing specialist resources regardless of location and maintaining continuity of service delivery despite fluctuating demands,” lead partner John Walter said.

Corrs acted as the lead transaction lawyers for the BrisConnections consortium, which was announced as preferred bidder for the project in May 2008. The Consortium includes Leighton Holdings, Macquarie Capital Group, Thiess and John Holland. The consortium will deliver the Airport Link, Northern Busway (Windsor to Kedron) and Airport Roundabout Upgrade projects.

The project involved a $1.2 billion initial public offering (IPO) of securities in BrisConnections and a $3.0 billion debt financing package. Corrs’ involvement stemmed from the initial negotiation of the project deed with the Queensland State Government, the design and construction sub-contract, and the later stage operations and maintenance contract with the other project participants.

The Corrs team – made up of partners John Walter, David Warren, Peter Schenk, Henry Prokuda, Simon Ashworth, Shawn Wytenburg, Simon Morris and Reynah Tang – advised BrisConnections on all aspects of its successful bid.

Each aspect of the transaction posed unique challenges for the lawyers involved– the payment, environmental, approval, tenure and access regimes were different for each work package and each had to be separately addressed in the subcontract.

The design and construction sub-contract is being billed as the largest construction contract for an Australian Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

The final agreement provides for the simultaneous design and construction of the publicly financed and owned Northern Busway (from Windsor to Kedron), the privately financed and owned Airport Link toll road and publicly financed and owned Airport Roundabout Upgrade.

“Our work on the Airport Link project is a further demonstration of the firm’s commitment to the development of major infrastructure in Australia,” Walter said.

“The volume of major infrastructure work that the firm has undertaken in recent years has developed our ability to harness our specialist expertise across the country in a truly integrated way. This approach to project delivery is valued by our clients.”

Construction of Airport Link is expected to commence in late 2008 with work scheduled for completion by mid 2012.

- Laura MacIntyre

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