Public float of QR National
In 2010 the Queensland Government split the government owned rail operator Queensland Rail into two companies: the government owned passenger operator Queensland Rail and the freight operator QR National (now Aurizon), the latter to be floated in late 2010.
On 2 June 2009 the Queensland Government announced the 'Renewing Queensland Plan', with Queensland Rail's commercial activities to be separated from the Government's core passenger service responsibilities, and formed into a new company called QR National Limited. The new structure was announced by the State Government on 2 December 2009, and took place from 1 July 2010.
QR's coal, freight and infrastructure businesses was sold as an integrated enterprise, known as QR National Limited with headquarters in Brisbane. The new enterprise controls QR's coal business in Queensland and New South Wales, regional freight business in Queensland, bulk mineral and grain haulage in Western Australia and Queensland, and containerised freight between Cairns - Brisbane - Sydney - Melbourne - Adelaide - Perth. It will also have a long-term 99-year lease over the railway lines that form the Queensland coal haulage network: the Newlands line to Port of Abbot Point, the Moura line to the Port of Gladstone, the Goonyella system based around the Port of Hay Point, and the Blackwater system based around the Port of Gladstone, as well as network control responsibilities. The QR rollingstock workshops at Redbank, Rockhampton and Townsville are also included. The business model in the Queensland coalfields will be similar to Class I railroads in North America, which are vertically integrated with ownership of the trains used to carry freight and the infrastructure they run upon.
The initial public offering of the freight and coal businesses occurred on Monday 22 November 2010, with the sale raising $4.6 billion. QR employees who will be part of the new entity will have their jobs guaranteed for two years, and receive $1000 worth of shares and the option to purchase an additional $4000 of shares at a discounted price. The Queensland Government will initially retain a 25 to 40 per cent shareholding in the publicly floated company, with Queensland residents given preference in purchasing the remaining shares.
On 9 March 2010 a consortium of 13 mining companies with coal operations in Queensland, known as the Queensland Coal Industry Rail Group and headed by former NSW premier Nick Greiner, announced their intention to buy QR's coal rail network. The consortium made a formal $4.85 billion offer on 26 May for the tracks used exclusively or predominantly to haul export coal to port, and excluding QR's trains and freight businesses. If the bid is accepted the rail assets would be managed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation, a federal government owned body who manages the Australian interstate freight network. Premier Anna Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser said it would consider the offer but believed a public float was the best option. The companies providing the equity included Anglo American Metallurgical Coal, BHP Billiton, Ensham Resources, Felix Resources, Jellinbah Group, Macarthur Coal, Peabody Energy, Rio Tinto Coal Australia, Vale Australia, Wesfarmers Resources and Xstrata Coal; with Aquila Resources and New Hope Coal are supporting parties and may provide equity at a later stage. QR chief executive Lance Hockridge rejected the bid in June 2010, saying it is not in the best interests of the future expansion of the state's coal network. The consortium increased their bid for QR National to $5.2 billion on 10 August 2010 and the Queensland Government confirmed they are in negotiations with the consortium over this bid. During the negotiations the consortium received access to the QR National's financials. The negotiations ended when the consortium did not meet the deadline of 10 September 2010 for making a binding offer for QR National.
On 11 June 2010 the Federal Court of Australia found that QR breached workplace agreements during the privatisation process, with workers not given the opportunity to discuss if they would be moved into the new private business, how the privatisation would occur, or if they wanted privatisation at all. On 22 June the court fined QR a total of $660,000: QR Limited was fined $396,000, and its subsidiaries QR Passenger and QR Network were fined $231,00 and $33,000 respectively. The court action had been launched in February 2010 by the Australian Rail Tram and Bus Industry Union and four other unions with members working for QR.
On 1 July 2010, the Queensland government separated QR National from QR Limited. Both Queensland Rail and QR National received a re-branding, with both getting a new logo and Queensland Rail getting new livery for the trains, new signage at stations, new staff uniforms and a new website. At the same time, the Queensland government announced new services, an overhaul of the timetables and a new focus on providing passenger rail transport and travel services for Queensland Rail.
The new passenger train business will be a government-owned corporation known as Queensland Rail, with administrative headquarters in Ipswich. The government will retain ownership of the passenger service business and assets, including commuter, long-distance and tourist passenger rail services, the metropolitan rail network, the regional freight network (excluding the tracks used for coal services), and the Workshops Railway Museum.
The Queensland government opened the pre-registration for the QR National share offer on 19 September 2010, inviting Queensland residents and smaller market players to pre-register. The Queensland government will sell up to 1.68 million shares at between A$2.50 and A$3.00 a share, while retaining between 25 and 40 per cent of QR National. The shares were listed on Australian Securities Exchange on 22 November 2010.
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- "QR chair and CEO welcome sale decision". Media Release. Queensland Rail. 8 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
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- Moran, Susannah (8 March 2010). "Queensland Rail on track for $3bn float". The Australian.
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- Brannell, Louise (9 December 2009). "Queensland Rail in $7bn mega-float". News Limited.
- Fraser, Andrew (8 December 2009). "All Queenslanders invited to share in QR float". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government.
- Moore, Tony (9 March 2010). "Privates companies to bid for state's coal rail". Brisbane Times.
- Associated Press (26 May 2010). "Mining firms offer $4.85b for QR assets". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- James McCullough; John McCarthy (26 May 2010). "Coal miners offer $4.85 billion for Queensland's coal track network". The Courier-Mail.
- The Australian Financial Review (2 June 2010). "QR boss slams miners' bid". North Queensland Register.
- Howells, Melinda (10 August 2010). "Government negotiating with coal companies over QR sale". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC News.
- Australian Associated Press (19 August 2010). "QR National opens books to miners". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Australia: Fairfax Media.
A consortium of Queensland mining companies seeking to buy the state's coal rail tracks has been given access to QR National's books.
- Howells, Melinda (10 September 2010). "Miners withdraw bid for QR coal network". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC News.
- "Federal Court finds Queensland Rail broke workplace rules". The Courier-Mail. 11 June 2010.
- Associated Press (22 June 2010). "Queensland Rail fined the maximum amount over workplace breaches". Herald Sun.
- Nolan, Rachel (1 July 2010). "Welcome to the new Queensland Rail" (Press release). Queensland Government.
- "QR steams ahead with public float". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC News. 19 September 2010.
- "QR National float details unveiled". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC News. 10 October 2010.