AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Queensland to sell more Aurizon shares

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Queensland Government has announced it will sell another 200 million of its shares in Australia’s largest rail freight company, Aurizon, for roughly $806m. </span> <p>In October last year, the Newman government sold over 430 million of its shares in Aurizon, then known as QR National, for $1.5bn, reducing the government’s share from 34% to 16%.</p><p>This further sale will leave the state government with just an 8.9% share in the nation’s largest rail freight company it will hold 189.2 million shares with a current value of $764.4m.</p><p>After selling the 430 million shares in October for $3.47 each, the government has sold the most recent batch of shares for $4.03 each, and will also receive a scheduled 4.1 cents per share dividend on them, worth a further $8.2m.</p><p>The $4.03 price was chosen as “a premium” to the company’s volume weighted average trading price on the day prior to the government’s announcement, March 15, and the 5- and 10-day volume weighted average trading prices prior to the announcement.</p><p>“In other words, we have again fulfilled our commitment to achieve the best possible price for the sale of a significant portion of our remaining shares in Aurizon,” Queensland treasurer Tim Nicholls said.</p><p>Nicholls said the deal was a great outcome for the state and its residents, as it would help pay down the state’s debt – or “Labor’s debt,” as Nicholls, a member of the Liberal National Party, calls it.</p><p>In June 2009, the Bligh Labor Government, then running the state, announced the Renewing Queensland plan, which aimed to recoup a portion of the state’s revenue, which the then-government said had been lost due to the global financial crisis.</p><p>As part of that plan, government-owned Queensland Rail was split into a passenger arm (Queensland Rail, as it is still known today), and a non-passenger, freight arm, then known as QR National.</p><p>The government sold a majority share in QR National to investors after the company was floated on the stock exchange in 2010, at an opening price of around $2.80. QR National was rebranded as Aurizon in December 2012.</p><p>October’s sale, according to Nicholls, represented “a gain of around $400m to Queensland’s bottom line since the Initial Public Offer [the float in 2010].”</p><p>This most recent sale, he said, “represents a gain of around $300m to Queensland’s bottom line since the Initial Public Offer.”</p><p>“It shows that investors clearly view Queensland as a great state of great opportunity,” he said.</p><p>He concluded by saying that while the government was reviewing its remaining 8.9% stake in the rail company, it has no current intention to sell additional shares in the near term.</p>