Hutchison and CMA CGM bid for Melbourne"s third box terminal

HONG KONG"s Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) and French container line CMA CGM are leading contenders to run Melbourne"s third container terminal on a 99-year lease.

Other shortlisted bidders include a consortium led by Australian International Container Terminals with International Container Terminal Services and Anglo Ports while another bidder is Australia-based Qube Holdings.

The A$1.6 billion (US$1.6 billion) one million TEU capacity terminal has attracted expressions of interest from local and international bidders after the tender process launched in October 2012.

With Swanson Dock, DP World and Patrick Stevedores handling cargo at other local terminals, Melbourne lifted 2.6 million TEU last year, up from 2.4 million TEU the year before, noted Lloyd"s List. The third terminal is at the Webb Dock East and includes 30 hectares of dock and yard space.

"In evaluating the bids we are seeking innovation to deliver higher levels of operational efficiency alongside the requirements to operate a growing port in the middle of one of the nation"s largest cities. We are also seeking commercial returns that are in line with the significance of this rare opportunity," said Melbourne port CEO Stephen Bradford, adding that shortlisted bidders are now to move to detailed proposal stage.

The successful bidder will be announced in "early 2014", and the first container vessel is expected to call the new terminal in late 2016.