Freight Rail

Aurizon challenges GWA sale with court bid

Aurizon coal train. Photo: Aurizon

Aurizon has lobbed a court challenge at rival Genesee & Wyoming, alleging it has violated “long-standing contractual commitments” by agreeing to sell its Australian business to Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) and Dutch pension fund manager PGGM.

In an application made to the New South Wales Supreme Court on September 17, Aurizon claims it was not given the opportunity to buy Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA) from its US parent, Genesee & Wyoming, before the sale was announced last month.

Aurizon says it was supposed to be given the first chance at buying GWA, due to a Rights of First Refusal Agreement signed more than a decade ago, as part of its acquisition of the above-rail assets of the Australian Railroad Group from Genesee & Wyoming and Wesfarmers in 2006.

On August 6, 2019, Conneticut-headquartered Genesee & Wyoming announced it would sell its 51 per cent stake in GWA to MIRA and PGGM.

MIRA and PGGM acquired the first 49 per cent of the business in 2016.

Aurizon says both sales violate its “long-standing” rights.

GWA assets include bulk and general freight assets in South Australia and the Northern Territory including the Tarcoola-to-Darwin rail line and rollingstock. It also owns coal haulage assets in the Hunter.

In its application to the court, Aurizon is seeking damages and declarations that Genesee & Wyoming breached its rights. Aurizon wants to see those rights preserved, “including the right to pursue transactions which may result from the exercise of those rights or otherwise”.

The sale announced last month by Genesee & Wyoming came after it was announced Genesee & Wyoming would itself be acquired by a consortium of Brookfield Infrastructure and GIC.