Hastings Funds Management Ltd. may team up with APG Groep NV, Europe’s largest pension fund manager, to bid for Australian toll-road operator Queensland Motorways Ltd., two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Hastings and APG plan to form a group with Spain’s Abertis Infraestructuras SA (ABE) to bid for the toll-road business, which may fetch more than A$5 billion ($4.4 billion), said the people, asking not to be identified as the details are private.
IFM Investors Pty may bid together with Canadian investors Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc. and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, one of the people and a third person with knowledge of the matter said. Transurban Group plans to partner with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and local pension fund AustralianSuper Pty on a bid, although the exact composition of the groups isn’t finalized, two other people said.
Australian infrastructure assets are attracting interest from pension funds and other institutional investors because of their relative safety and steady cash flows. IFM and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority led a group of investors in April that paid A$5.1 billion to lease Port Botany, the nation’s second-biggest container terminal, and Port Kembla.
Indicative bids are due Feb. 7, owner QIC Ltd. said in a Dec. 26 statement. The Australian Financial Review reported some members of the bidding groups in its Street Talk column today, citing unidentified people.
An Abertis spokeswoman only said the company is “analyzing the operation.” AustralianSuper spokeswoman Susan Fairley didn’t immediately answer a call and e-mail seeking comment. Spokesmen for APG, QML, Transurban, Hastings, IFM and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority declined to comment. Spokesmen for Ontario Teachers’ and Borealis didn’t respond to calls and e-mails outside normal office hours.
QIC said last month it would sell Queensland Motorways and expected to complete the process by the end of April. The unit manages a 62-kilometer (39-mile) network of toll roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Queensland state, including the Gateway, Gateway Extension and Logan motorways, according to the December statement.
Queensland Motorways had a valuation of A$3.1 billion including debt when it was transferred from government ownership to QIC in May 2011. Since then it has acquired the Go-Between Bridge and Clem7 Tunnel and agreed to buy the tolling rights for Brisbane’s Legacy Way tunnel, due to start operation in 2015. Macquarie Group Ltd. and UBS AG are advising on the sale.
Transurban, Australia’s biggest operator of toll roads, controls assets in Sydney, Melbourne and the U.S. In 2010 it fought off a A$7.2 billion takeover offer from CP2 Ltd., a group led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’.
Melbourne-based Hastings and Ontario Teachers’ in May together won the right to lease the Sydney Desalination Plant for 50 years for A$2.3 billion. Hastings is a unit of Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC), Australia’s second-biggest bank by market value.
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