Asciano punts NSW, QLD governments

Port Botany

Port Botany

Asciano chief executive Mark Rowsthorn has lashed out at the New South Wales and Queensland governments, saying that backing another foreign terminal operator to enter major ports with government subsidy would be “bloody rude” to existing operators.     

Mr Rowsthorn said introducing a third operator to Sydney’s Port Botany and Brisbane Fisherman Islands would work against the current operators who struggle to protect themselves.

“I sit here as the only Australian stevedore and say that’s pretty bloody rude, because we do a good job and we’ve got a lot of Australians who work here,” he said.

“I’ll put the national cap on here and say fair’s fair, and any new operator should be subject to the same rentals and any subsidies that are suggested, we just go nuts over.”

The $1 billion Port Botany expansion project began last month, which will double the port’s capacity upon completion.

Asciano, which owns the sole Australian stevedore, Patrick, has reportedly invested over $120 million to upgrade the port’s terminal over the past three years.

Mr Rowsthorn has recently announced Port Botany moved a record of more than one million TEU in the 2007/08 fiscal year.

Amid speculations over a US consortium-led takeover, the company has also announced its 2007/08 full year results, which include an increase in operating revenue of five per cent to $2.9 billion, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 10.1 per cent to $677.7 million.

Assessing its operating business units as performing well overall during the year, with the Patrick ports business and Pacific National achieving strong outcomes, Mr Rowsthorn said the company expects another year of strong performance in the next fiscal year.

The company said that it will initiate a process starting this December to partially monetise one or more of its operating businesses, either by way of a partial sale or a structured transaction.

“We believe all of our business will continue to grow and generate attractive returns for our security holders,” he said.

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