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Queensland leases motorways to state pension for A$3bn

The Australian state originally planned to lease Queensland Motorways to the private sector, but the government has instead transferred the 40-year concession to the state’s superannuation fund in exchange for A$3.1bn.

The state of Queensland, Australia has completed the transfer of Queensland Motorways, the owner of several motorways in south-east Queensland, to the state’s superannuation fund.

The 40-year lease of the motorways was transferred at “market value” of A$3.1 billion (€2.3 billion; $3.3 billion) to the state investment arm Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), according to a statement from Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser. QIC is  one of Australia’s largest institutional fund managers with over A$55 billion of assets under management.

Fraser said the motorways will become an asset of the state’s public sector superannuation scheme, and added that the transfer will “significantly assist the State in managing its ongoing superannuation obligations”.

The lease of Queensland Motorways was originally planned as part of an A$15 billion package of privatisations that Queensland government announced in 2009 in order to offset budget shortfalls related to the recession.

But last November the Queensland government announced that it would transfer the motorways to QIC rather than sell or lease them to the private sector.

Queensland premier Anna Bligh said in a November statement that the transfer would be “a win-win situation for Queensland taxpayers”.

“It means the motorways will still stay in public hands while at the same time working towards our goal of regaining the AAA credit rating as soon as we can,” she said.

Queensland Motorways operates 62 kilometres of roads in the southeastern part of the state, according to the company website. The network includes three roads, bridges, and five toll points, and carries more than 75 million motorists a year.

Other assets included the in Queensland privatisation programme include the 99-year lease of the Port of Brisbane – which was awarded to a consortium comprised of QIC, Global Infrastructure Partners, Industry Funds Management and a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for A$2.1 billion – and the 99-year lease of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal. The latter was recently awarded to a subsidiary of Indian infrastructure conglomerate Adani Enterprises for A$1.8 billion.