Downer Group

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Downer Group
Traded asASXDOW
FounderArnold Fielder Downer
Key people
Grant Fenn, CEO and Managing Director
ServicesIntegrated services
$12.6 billion (August 2018) [1]
Increase $296.5 million (August 2018)
Number of employees
53,000 (May 2019)
DivisionsTransport and Infrastructure
Mining, Energy and Industrial
New Zealand
SubsidiariesDowner Rail
Keolis Downer (49%)
Spotless Group Holdings (88%)
DM Roads
QCC Resources
Mineral Technologies

Downer Group is an integrated services company active in Australia and New Zealand.

Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and New Zealand Stock Exchange as Downer EDI (DOW), Downer is an ASX 100 company that also owns 88 per cent of Spotless Group Holdings (SPO).

Downer Group employs approximately 53,000 people across more than 300 sites, primarily in Australia and New Zealand but also in the Asia-Pacific region, South America and Southern Africa.


Downer's foundations were laid in the 1800s, when Walkers Limited and Clyde Engineering were founded in Australia, and the Public Works Department and Electrical Telegraph Department were founded in New Zealand. These would later merge in the 1900s to form parts of the Downer Group. The 1900s also saw the purchase of companies that now make up Downer's core divisions; railway manufacturer Evans Deakin & Company (EDI) and mining contractor Roche Brothers.[2]

The Downer Group was founded in New Zealand in 1933 as Downer & Co by Arnold Fielder Downer focussing on providing engineering and construction services to the public and private infrastructure sectors in New Zealand, including the New Zealand Public Works Department. In 1954 it merged with William Cable Holdings and in 1964 with A & G Price to form Cable Price Downer.[2]

In 1994, Downer merged with Hong Kong-based Paul YITC. In 1996, Works Corporation, the state-owned enterprise civil construction arm of the New Zealand Ministry of Works & Development was purchased. In 1997, mining contractor Roche Brothers was acquired.[3] In 1998 Downer purchased major roads contractor Technic Group, and were first listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.[2]

In 2000, road sealing business Bitumix was acquired from BP.[4] In 2001 Downer merged with Evans Deakin Industries to form Downer EDI.[2][5] Between 2003-2008 Downer also acquired Stork, QCC, Snowden, Emoleum and Excell Corporation. In October 2014, the construction assets of Tenix were acquired.[6]

In March 2017 Downer acquired Hawkins, one of New Zealand's largest builders, and in June 2017, took majority ownership of Spotless Group Holdings though a hostile takeover.[7][8] The Spotless acquisition is the largest in Downer's history.

Major projects[edit]

Projects undertaken by the company have included:


Downer reports its financial results under six service lines: Transport; Utilities; Rail; Engineering, Construction and Maintenance; Mining and Facilities.


Downer Rail was formed in March 2001 as EDI Rail following the purchase of Evans Deakin Industries by Downer Group. Evans Deakin operated the former Clyde Engineering plants at Kelso and Somerton and Walkers Limited, Maryborough plant. It reopened the former Cardiff Locomotive Workshops to build CityRail M sets. In July 2007 it was renamed Downer Rail.[21]

In 2008 Locomotive Demand Power was established as a subsidiary to lease locomotives. In November 2009 Downer Rail became a tram operator through its 49% shareholding in Keolis Downer that operates the Yarra Trams franchise in Melbourne.[22] In July 2014, Keolis Downer commenced operating the G:link light rail line on the Gold Coast.[23]

In March 2015, Keolis Downer purchased bus operator Australian Transit Enterprises which operates the Hornibrook Bus Lines, LinkSA, Path Transit and SouthLink operations with 930 buses.[24] In July 2017, Keolis Downer commenced operating bus and ferry services in Newcastle under the Newcastle Transport brand.[25][26]


Transport comprises Downer's road, rail infrastructure, bridge, airport and port businesses. It conducts transport infrastructure services that include earthworks, civil construction, asset management, maintenance, surfacing and stabilisation, supply of bituminous products and logistics, open space and facilities management and rail track signalling and electrification works.[27]


The Utilities service line provides services in the power, gas, water, renewable energy and communications sectors. Downer designs, builds, operates and maintains steel lattice transmission towers, electricity and gas networks, wastewater treatment plants, water assets, wind farms, solar farms and telecommunication networks such as the NBN.[28]

Engineering, Construction and Maintenance (EC&M)[edit]

Downer's EC&M division provides services to greenfield and brownfield projects across industry sectors such as: oil and gas; power generation; commercial / non-residential; iron ore; coal; and industrial materials. These services are delivered on mining and industrial sites as well as commercial operations such as data centres, airport facilities and hospitals. EC&M has a Defence business which offers design, construction, operation and maintenance services to the Australian Army.[29]


Downer's Mining business operates across 50 sites in Australia, Papua New Guinea, South America and Southern Africa. Most of Downer's Mining contracts deliver open cut mining and blasting services, with other services such as tyre management, underground mining, blasting, consulting services and site rehabilitation.[29]


Spotless operates in Australia and New Zealand and provides outsourced facility services, catering and laundry services, technical and engineering services, maintenance and asset management services and refrigeration solutions. Its customers include corporations and government departments, agencies and authorities at the Federal, State and Municipal level.[30]

Use of pseudoscience[edit]

In 2019 Downer admitted to using dowsing, in an attempt to find water pipes while contracting to the Wellington City Council. Dowsing is considered a pseudoscience and there is no scientific evidence that it is any more effective than random chance. Downer told New Zealand Skeptic's chair Craig Shearer that Downer has no concern about the public perception that ratepayer money is being spent on a technique considered pseudoscience. Downer's general manager of business excellence and reputation Brooke Dahlberg said "the method is safe, and it has no plan to ban staff from using it - the choice to use it was up to individual employees."[31]


Downer Group was the naming rights sponsor of the NRL Auckland Nines in 2016 and 2017.[32][33] It also sponsored the 2016 Anzac Test at the Newcastle International Sports Centre and the 2018 World Club Challenge.[34][35]. In November 2018 Downer announced that it would be the major sponsor of the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s [36]

In 2017, Downer signed on to be the major sponsor of the Sunshine Coast Lightning netball team.[37]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d History Downer Group
  3. ^ A Family History Roche Brothers
  4. ^ Works Civil cleared to acquire Bitumix Commerce Commission New Zealand 27 July 1998
  5. ^ Company name and ASX code changes 2001 Australian Securities Exchange
  6. ^ Downer EDI buys Salteri family's Tenix business for $300m Sydney Morning Herald 20 October 2014
  7. ^ Downer launches $1.27b bid for Spotless The West Australian 21 March 2017
  8. ^ Downer EDI seeks seats on Spotless board Special Broadcasting Service 27 June 2017
  9. ^ " Longest Tunnel in British Commonwealth" Railway Gazette 18 November 1955 page 584
  10. ^ "City Rail Link Become Reality". NBR. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Downer wins Gorgon contract". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 September 2014.
  13. ^ "Downer EDI wins $400m Wheatstone contract". Australian Financial Review. 1 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Ausenco Downer JV awarded EPC contract for Carrapateena Copper Gold Mine Project".
  15. ^ "Gruyere gold project partners sign $400m contract". The West Australian. 19 December 2017.
  16. ^ Rostron, Sophia. "Downer wins $250m contract extension at Meandu Mine".
  17. ^ Probert, Author Oliver (12 September 2016). "Downer consortium wins HCMT contract".
  18. ^ NSW, Transport for (23 June 2017). "Sydney Growth Trains".
  19. ^ "Millenium maintenance contract extension". Downer Corporate Site.
  20. ^ "Newcastle Light Rail".
  21. ^ Downer EDI launches new company names and branding approach Downer EDi 2 July 2007
  22. ^ Melbourne tram and train operators selected Railway Gazette International 25 June 2009
  23. ^ GoldlinQ selected to build Gold Coast light rail Railway Gazette International 6 May 2011
  24. ^ Operator ATE Sold Australasian Bus & Coach 11 March 2015
  25. ^ Keolis Downer awarded contract to run light rail, buses and ferries says Baird government Newcastle Herald 12 December 2016
  26. ^ Keolis Downer awarded Newcastle Transport Contract Keolis Downer 12 December 2016
  27. ^ "Roads". Downer Corporate Site.
  28. ^ "Communications". Downer Corporate Site.
  29. ^ a b "Defence". Downer Corporate Site.
  30. ^ "Facilities Management". Downer Corporate Site.
  31. ^ Wellington ratepayers foot bill for pseudo science Newsroom 6 March 2019
  32. ^ Downer becomes 2016 Nines naming rights sponsor National Rugby League 19 January 2016
  33. ^ Downer secures NRL Auckland Nines naming rights sponsorship for 2017 and 2018 NRL Auckland Nines 5 July 2016
  34. ^ Downer to sponsor Test Match National Rugby League 13 April 2016
  35. ^ Downer partners with World Club Challenge Melbourne Storm 6 February 2018
  36. ^
  37. ^ "Major partnership with Sunshine Coast Lightning". Downer Corporate Site.

External links[edit]