King & Wood Mallesons and Minter Ellison have the lead roles on a $1.6 billion deal by state-run China Merchants Group Ltd. and Australia’s Hastings Funds Management Ltd. to lease the port of Newcastle in New South Wales.

Hong Kong-based China Merchants Group, a conglomerate with operations in the transportation, logistics and banking sectors, and infrastructure fund manager Hastings will each hold a 50 percent share of the 98-year lease, which they are purchasing from the New South Wales government.

Newcastle, about 100 miles north of Sydney, is the world’s largest coal export port.

Late last month, the state of Queensland sold toll road company Queensland Motorways Ltd. for $6.6 billion to a consortium led by Transurban Group, Australia’s largest toll road operator. These deals are part of a federal government program to boost economic activity in areas outside the country’s well-known mining industry, particularly in infrastructure. States that sell assets to private investors are given an incentive payment from the federal government, as long as they use that money toward new infrastructure projects.

King & Wood Mallesons Sydney partner Mark Upfold is leading the team advising China Merchants and Hastings.

Minter Ellison Brisbane partner Andrew Rentoul and Sydney partner Costas Condoleon are representing the New South Wales government.

Email: azhang@alm.com.