WestConnex and Western Harbour Tunnel deals are Transurban’s to lose

06 March 2020 - 12:00 am UTC

Market watchers say the odds are high that Transurban will outbid all others whether projects are sold separately or together. Shaun Drummond reports.

Investment bankers and other advisers were rushing Friday to pitch for the scoping study on the sale of the remaining 49% stake in Sydney’s giant WestConnex (WCX) motorway network.

The New South Wales government said today it wants to have the study finalised by the second half of this year.

A central question for the mandate winner will be how to convince anyone to compete with the AUD 41bn (USD 27.2 bn) Transurban, whose Sydney Transport Partners consortium blew away all others with its AUD 9.26bn acquisition of 51% of the road network in late 2018.

With that win, it acquired control of a motorway network – and the traffic data that goes with it – that sits at the heart of Sydney’s existing motorway network and which a host of new motorways will connect to.

Funds and advisers Inframation spoke to were quick to mention both the WestConnex deal and the AUD 14bn Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link (WHT) procurement in the same breath since WHT will connect to WCX.

Citi, EY and Ashurst have just finalised their scoping study recommendations on how to procure the WHT. At least one of the options that would have been considered for WHT would be some form of sale of the asset. WestConnex was sold after the government had partially built it, thereby reducing some of the risk to revenue of unknown traffic flows for investors.

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