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US and Australian Alternative Investment Funds Acquire Australian Port

Australian port acquired
Geelong Port was acquired by U.S. and Australian investors (Geelong Port)

Published Apr 28, 2023 6:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

U.S.-based Stonepeak, an alternative investment fund manager, and Spirit Super, an industry fund based in Australia, completed on April 26 the acquisition of GeelongPort, the second largest port located in Australia’s Victoria state. The two funds view the port as a strong investment opportunity and committed to a long-term growth strategy when agreeing to buy the port in November 2022. They acquired the port for an estimated A$1.1 billion (US$660 million) from Canadian asset manager Brookfield and Australian pension fund State Super.

Stonepeak, which specializes in infrastructure and real assets, believes that GeelongPort offers significant opportunities owing to its status as a high-quality landlord port with operations that are critical to Australia’s economy. They highlight that the port is a major driver of the region’s economy facilitating over A$7 billion (US$4.6 billion) of annual trade and supporting more than 1,800 jobs across the state.

“Our investment in the port reflects Spirit Super’s strong commitment to investing in compelling opportunities across regional Australia,” said Ross Barry, Spirit Super Chief Investment Officer.

Located approximately 45 miles southwest of Melbourne, the port is Victoria’s premier bulk port handling 12 million tonnes of cargo and 600 vessel visits annually. The port encompasses 15 berths over two primary precincts, Corio Quay and Lascelles, and provides land, infrastructure, and services to facilitate trade for some of Victoria’s largest businesses.

In addition to the cargo port, GeelongPort worked closely with TT-Line and six months ago became the new Australian terminus for the Spirit of Tasmania ferry operations. The port developed a state-of-the-art passenger and freight terminal in its Corio Quay South precinct that includes a vehicle marshaling area for 600 cars, a parking area for 150 semi-trailers, crew accommodation, a café, and a children’s play area. Spirit of Tasmania completed its first sailing into Geelong on October 23, 2022, and the addition of the operation to the port is expected to increase tourism expenditure in both the city of Geelong and Victoria. Port officials also believe it has also created new opportunities for hospitality, agribusiness, freight, and logistics industries in Victoria.

“Closing this transaction marks another exciting milestone in the history of GeelongPort as it continues to serve its customers and the greater community of Victoria while playing an integral role in global trade,” said Darren Keogh, Stonepeak Senior Managing Director. “We believe GeelongPort has access to a meaningful set of opportunities for long-term growth, and we look forward to working with the GeelongPort team as we help them realize those opportunities while continuing to invest in existing objectives and supporting continued growth in the region.”

According to the new owners, the port is a highly contracted entity with strong barriers to entry and stable and predictable demand drivers, giving it meaningful opportunities for long-term growth through additional development to meet future import-export demand in the region. Following the acquisition, estimated to be worth $734 million, Stonepeak controls a 70 percent shareholding in GeelongPort with Spirit Super controlling the remaining 30 percent.