Palisade, superfunds walk from $1.2 billion Port of Geelong deal

Brookfield and State Super, joint shareholders of port holding company GeelongPort, are expected to consider their options. The pair continue to own and manage the port, and signed the deal with Palisade and Spirit Super after an auction through Barrenjoey and Macquarie last year.

The deal was worth $1.2 billion and would have seen Spirit Super own 51 percent and the other 49 percent split between a fund managed by Palisade and one of its clients, CSC. It was subject to ACCC approval and was initially due for completion in the first half of this year.

The ACCC released its review in January and published a problem statement in March. It was due to complete its review in June, but extended it to July and then indefinitely, scuppering the union’s chances of meeting the deadline.

The ACCC was looking at Palisade’s ownership of the Port of Portland, a diversified bulk commodity seaport in south-west Victoria and 290 km from the Port of Geelong by road. The Port of Portland handles about 20 percent of the state’s bulk cargo, including products such as grains, mineral sands, fertilizers, and forest products.

In its problem statement, the ACCC said it was concerned that the Port of Geelong deal could lessen competition for port services in the region, given Palisade’s shareholding in both.

It is a blow to the buyers, advised by Gresham and KWM, who obviously did not think that buying Port of Geelong would cause such a lengthy review by the ACCC.

It’s also a blow to Brookfield and State Super, who said the Spirit Super and Palisade consortium “was a clear standout given its industry experience and long-term investment horizon” in announcing the transaction.

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