Ventia’s acquisition of Broadspectrum given green light

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has stated that it will not oppose Ventia’s acquisition of Broadspectrum.

The acquisition was first announced in late 2019. Ventia is a 50/50 partnership of CIMIC Group, which also owns CPB Contractors and UGL Limited, and funds management firm Apollo Global Management. Although operating largely in other sectors, Ventia has provided work on the Parramatta Light Rail. Ventia’s subsidiary, Visionstream, provides telecommunication services to the rail industry.

Broadspectrum, owned by Spanish multinational Ferrovial, provides rail services on the Sydney rail network, to Bluescope at Pork Kembla, on the Brisbane Airport rail Link, and provides maintenance services in South Australia. Broadspectrum will also install the Automatic Train Protection project on the Sydney Trains network.

The ACCC said that strong competition would remain in the sector if the purchase goes ahead.

“We looked at this proposed acquisition closely to ensure strong competition remains in the supply of infrastructure services to industries with a direct impact on consumer prices,” said ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway.

“We contacted many customers of infrastructure services, and received consistent feedback that there is sufficient competition from alternative suppliers and that companies will continue to have a variety of options when contracting for infrastructure services.”

Cross River Rail builder questioned

Questions have been raised once again about one of the primary construction contractors for Queensland’s Cross River Rail project.

CPB Contractors, a subsidiary of CIMIC Group has been asked to prove why it should be allowed to continue working on the project.

The call came in the form of a show cause letter from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to CPB Contractors after the company did not provide a Minimum Financial Requirement (MFR) report when its net tangible assets dropped below 20 per cent.

CPB Contractors has 21 days to provide the MFR report or QBCC will take regulatory action, which could include a number of options including the termination of the company’s construction licence.

CPB Contractors is part of the Pulse consortium, which is led by CIMIC Group companies. The Pulse consortium is delivering the tunnel, stations, and development component of the Cross River Rail project. CPB Contractors is also part of the Unity consortium, which is delivering the rail, integration and systems works package. Combined, these works include four new underground stations, the tunnel from Dutton Park to Normanby, as well as operations systems and controls, signalling and communications and accessibility upgrades.

Last month, a new governance structure was announced for the project, partly due to concerns that disputes that occurred over the West Gate Tunnel in Victoria would spread to Queensland. The board of the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority were told that their terms would not be extended beyond April, a compliance unit will oversee contractor commitments, and the Authority will directly report to the Minister for Cross River Rail, Kate Jones.

“I want to ensure I have the right people with the right skills to deliver this project and hold CPB and Pulse Consortium to account,” said Jones at the time.

CIMIC Group, the QBCC and the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority declined to comment.