China isn’t the only emerging economy with an energy interest in Australia.
India’s growing appetite for coal was revealed this week when Adani Enterprises, a unit of Indian-owned conglomerate Adani Group, announced it would acquire the Abbot Point Coal Terminal in the northeast Australian state of Queensland.
Ahmedabad-based Adani Enterprises is India’s largest coal importer. Owned by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, the latest deal by Adani will help it ship out coal from an Australian mine it acquired last year, according to The Economic Times. Adani subsidiary Mundra Port & Special Economic Zone (MPSEZ) has signed a 99-year lease for the port of Abbot Point, the northernmost deepwater coal port in Australia.
Sujjain Talwar, head of the corporate practice at ELP in Mumbai, is representing MPSEZ along with dispute resolution and litigation practice head Vikram Nankani. Blake Dawson commercial property partner Damian Salsbury and energy and infrastructure partner Tony Denholder in Brisbane are providing Australian counsel to the buyer.
Abbot Point has turned to Australian legal giant Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR) for counsel on the transaction, according to Bar & Bench and Legally India. The firm has been advising Abbot Point, which is owned by the Queensland government, since it sought to raise roughly $15 billion by putting several public assets up for sale in November 2009.
Other large Australia firms landing work on privatizations by the Queensland government include Freehills on a 99-year lease for Queensland’s Forestry Plantations, Minter Ellison on $2 billion sale of the Port of Brisbane last year, and Clayton Utz on the since-cancelled Queensland Motorways sale.
AAR, Minter Ellison, and Clayton Utz also advised on a nearly $5 billion IPO last year by QR National, the largest rail freight company in Australia that once operated as an arm of the Queensland government.
The Financial Times reports that Adani’s acquisition of Abbot Point is the latest Aussie coal venture by the company. Adani’s MPSEZ unit already operates India’s largest private port, and the operating rights for Abbot Point, which had hit regulatory delays in Australia, will give the company an even larger presence Down Under.
The Queensland government intends to use proceeds from the sale for disaster recovery projects after the state was hit by devastating floods earlier this year, forcing many law firms to flee their Brisbane offices.