Canadian pension funds are involved in talks with Australian business and government officials in Ottawa.
Canada’s cashed-up pension funds are running the calculator over road and port projects in Australia.
Executives from the funds – which hold around $1.1 trillion in assets – are involved in talks with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Trade Minister Andrew Robb, government officials and Australian business chiefs in Ottawa on Monday (Ottawa time).
It is understood that among the potential investments are the Port of Melbourne, which is earmarked for privatisation, the expanded Port of Hastings, the second stage of Sydney’s WestConnex (M5 East) and Melbourne’s East West Link.
Expressions of interest for the Port of Melbourne are expected to be called in early 2015 but the structure of the sale or long-term lease will depend on the outcome of the November state election in Victoria.
Labor has backed a 99-year lease project while the Napthine coalition government prefers a more corporate-oriented model.
Canadian pension fund Caisse has already shown interest in Australian ports, taking a stake in the Port of Brisbane last year.
Work on the business case and environmental assessment for Victoria’s Port of Hastings expansion is expected to be completed by 2017.
The NSW government is considering making the second stage of the WestConnex road project a public-private partnership.
Mr Robb has been involved in a series of functions and roundtables in Ottawa.
The minister said that apart from infrastructure, there was a lot of interest in the service industries, tourism, resources and medical research and devices.
The long-running issue of lifting Canada’s ban on majority foreign investment in uranium mines is understood to have been canvassed.
Mr Robb will take Australia’s “open for business” message to Toronto, New York, Houston, while Mr Abbott and his business delegation will head to New York, Washington DC and Houston.
Canada is a top-10 source country for foreign direct investment in Australia with $26 billion invested.
The US is Australia’s largest source of foreign direct investment with $658 billion directly invested.