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Qld banks billions in road deal

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Spot the difference: in Adelaide debate is raging about a permanent bike lane on a CBD street while in Brisbane the State Government just sold its tollway road network for $7 billion.

Queensland has a network of toll roads that service the capital city of Brisbane and link it swiftly with key regional areas on the Gold Coast to the south and the Sunshine Coast to the north.

These roads have an asset value because they are toll roads.

Three years ago the State Government pushed them across to its investment arm – QIC – for a book value of $3 billion.

The asset was managed by QIC on behalf of the Defined Benefit Fund to meet public sector superannuation liabilities.

QIC today sold that asset to a private consortium for $7 billion, banking a sizeable profit into the fund.

The successful bidder was a consortium comprising Transurban, Australian Super and Tawreed Investments, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

The price was well above market expectations, delivering a boost to the State Government’s financial liabilities bottom line.

The state even picked up stamp duty on the sale.

It ranks as one of the biggest corporate deals in Australia in recent years.

Local media reported analysts had speculated QIC would get between $5 billion to $6 billion for the 70km network of tolled roads, bridges and infrastructure.

QIC chief executive officer Damien Frawley told the Courier mail in Brisbane the deal was a winner.

Frawley said the Transurban consortium has a long-established track record in successfully owning and operating similar assets, which now also takes responsibility for maintenance of the asset off the state’s books.

Transurban holds a 62.5 per cent stake in the consortium and will operate the Brisbane network, which includes the Go Between Bridge, CLEM7, Gateway and Logan motorways.

Chief executive Scott Charlton said the motorways were high quality assets that would help grow earnings for shareholders.

“Clearly, this is a portfolio of attractive assets with all the characteristics of our existing networks in Sydney and Melbourne, and the attractive demographics of the Queensland market,” Charlton said.

“Today’s acquisition represents the culmination of detailed analysis that began last year, and we are delighted with the outcome.”

Transurban shares, which last traded at $7.27, have been placed in a trading halt pending an announcement about a renounceable entitlement offer to shareholders to fund the purchase.

Meanwhile, back in Adelaide, we are still arguing about a bike lane on a road that is half-built, a legacy to a failed 1960s attempt to build a major network of arterial roads.

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