Port of Newcastle privatised in $1.75 billion deal

Hastings Funds Management and its backer, China Merchants, have won a bid to lease the Port of Newcastle for $1.75 billion.

NSW Premier Mike Baird described the 98-year deal as a “momentous result”.

“Transactions such as this bring enduring benefits to communities and the economy…that will unlock opportunities for growth, jobs and economic development."

Baird said Hastings and China Merchants were “equal partners” in the investment, with the state government retaining responsibility for a range of maritime safety and security functions, including emergency response, harbour master, port safety operating licence and pilotage functions.

Around $340 million from the sale will be invested into upgrades for Newcastle’s CBD, while $1.2 billion is earmarked for various other infrastructure projects in NSW.

Newcastle is the world’s biggest coal export terminal with more than 2200 vessels passing through carrying more than 150 million tonnes of cargo in the past year.

The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed the announcement of the long term lease.

“We are pleased the day has arrived, this is a great result for the Hunter Region,” Hunter Business Chamber President Richard Anicich said.

He said the money put aside to revitalise Newcastle’s CBD “will go a long way to kickstarting the much needed rebuild of our city”.

The NSW Government reached an agreement with Port of Newcastle Investments for the lease following a competitive five-month bidding process.

Other groups reported to have been involved in bids included ATEC, Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Macquarie Infrastructure.

Port Botany and Port Kembla were privatised last year for $5 billion.