Australian Port Bid Pending

Tuesday, July 24, 2001
The lead sale consultant for the sell-off of South Australia state's main ports was on Tuesday confident of a good outcome as two final bids were evaluated, but said a final decision was still weeks, if not months away. James Hatherley, a director with Arthur Andersen, confirmed that two final bids had been lodged this month for the group of six ports but said the evaluation process was complex as the new owner was required to build a dedicated deep sea grain wharf at the 18-berth capital city facility at Port Adelaide. "We got offers in on (July 9), we've been evaluating them and the government will be assessing that evaluation pretty shortly," Hatherley said. "There's not going to be an announcement until we've signed the contract. That could be weeks, it could be months, (although) we'd like it to be weeks," he said. Sources close to the bidding earlier this month said that the final bidders were Australian towage company Adsteam Marine Ltd., with French infrastructure firm Eigis, and a joint venture between local grain-handling cooperative Ausbulk Ltd and British ports and property group Forth Ports Plc. Asked if it had been disappointing to get only two final bids, Hatherley said: "I think the sale will be judged on the outcome and we're pretty confident about the outcome ... the whole package of price, transfer of risk, economic development, the things the government wants." The sell-off is expected to raise A$100 million to A$150 million, well below initial reports that the package could attract up to A$500 million. - (Reuters)

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