Port delays Buckeridge deal

Headshot of Kim Macdonald
Kim MacdonaldThe West Australian

The State Government's bid to sell the Kwinana Bulk Terminal to magnate Len Buckeridge has hit a hurdle, with Fremantle Ports failing to hand over crucial financial information.

The West Australian understands the port authority has not yet allowed the Buckeridge Group of Companies access to key financial information, including details about profitability and KBT customer payments, because of fears of breaching commercial confidentiality.

It is understood the authority is working on a privacy agreement to help it conduct sale negotiations without breaching confidentiality.

But there are concerns the process is taking too long, with the authority having failed to allow access to the data more than six months into negotiations with BGC over the bulk terminal.

BGC would need to consider the data before naming its price.

Mr Buckeridge, who has ailing health, is keen to finalise the matter after nearly 15 years of fighting the State Government over its failure to honour a deal he signed in the dying days of the Court government to build a private port at James Point in Kwinana.

The sole sale option to BGC is part of a bid by the Barnett Government to settle Mr Buckeridge's $1 billion lawsuit against the State over the matter.

The deal has been criticised for being clouded in secrecy, with Premier Colin Barnett conceding elements of it would remain confidential.

Asked how taxpayers could be satisfied they were getting the best deal, given the KBT was not being offered on the open market, Mr Barnett said recently: "They have to trust the Government."

Michael Hotchkin, of Hotchkin Hanly law firm, confirmed that BGC had not had access to any financial data about the KBT.

But he would not reveal whether the Government had put its own price on the bulk terminal yet.

"The verification of the KBT has been unable to be established because of lack of access to data," he said.

Treasurer Troy Buswell refused to comment on the matter.

"Legal negotiations between the State Government and JPPL (James Point Pty Ltd) in regard to this matter are ongoing," he said.

"As a result, confidentiality agreements prevent further comment."

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