The consortium, known as the Queensland Coal Industry Rail Group (QCIRG) and chaired by former NSW premier Nick Greiner, was this week reported to have raised its bid for the coal rail track network from $4.85bn to around $5.1bn or $5.2bn, apparently in an attempt to head off state government plans to float QR National's coal and bulk freight assets.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and her Treasurer Andrew Fraser have so far held firm in their ambition to sell QR National’s integrated rail network and freight operator into an initial public offering (IPO) before the end of the year.
However, the coal miners in QCIRG are concerned that the structure of the sale will stifle competition and growth of the network. In response, they have banded together, with Nick Greiner at the helm, to offer a simpler transaction immune to the vagaries of world equity markets.
“We have considered the alternative model under the IPO and associated regulation and legislation and strongly believe it does not represent an optimal or even reasonable basis for assuring the future of the state’s major export industry,” said Mr Greiner, chairman, QCIRG.
“The QCIRG offer has four goals: to encourage fair and open access, optimise network performance, enable early system expansions, and encourage rail haulage competition, all with flow-on benefits through enhanced investment, employment and royalties.”
The QCIRG offer, for the below track rail assets, excludes QR National’s above rail rolling stock assets and the freight businesses of QR National. In contrast, the IPO option is for both the above and below rail assets, including trains.
QCIRG, which represents 98% of Queensland’s miners, has so far been denied access to the QR National data room.