Infrastructure fund plan

THE state government has proposed the establishment of a national export infrastructure fund of $2 billion in order to expand and consolidate key export industries. Treasurer Eric Ripper said the Commonwealth should use its surplus to build more infrastructure, which was an investment in the nation’s future. “An investment in the nation’s future by supporting projects which will generate long-term prosperity is where I think the money should be spent,” he said. However, WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive John Langoulant believes the solution was not to ask the federal government for an infrastructure fund, but rather that a review of Commonwealth-state relations should be undertaken. “The states should be provided access to the income tax base; that would allow the states to abolish a number of the very inefficient taxes it currently levies,” Mr Langoulant said. That income tax access would provide the state with access to the growth revenues the treasurer was seeking, according to Mr Langoulant. Neptune buys Subsea Developments PERTH marine, oil and gas services company, Neptune Marine Services Ltd, has announced its fourth acquisition in a busy six months with a deal to buy Subsea Developments Australia. The acquisitions will increase revenue at Neptune more than 10-fold from last year’s $2.1 million. Neptune will make an up-front payment of $5.5 million plus a three-year earn-out based on Subsea’s EBIT performance. Payments by Neptune will consist of 55 per cent cash and 45 per cent Neptune shares. The deal follows a series of similar moves for the Christian Lange-led company, coinciding with a $17 million equity raising late last year. In December, Neptune completed the acquisition of Allied Diving Services Pty Ltd for a total consideration of $2.6 million. The company then announced the purchase of Link Weld Engineering, a Perth-based specialist engineering firm servicing the oil and gas sectors in WA, for an up-front payment of $4 million for goodwill plus the value of plant, equipment and work in progress. A further payment of $3 million will be made over a three-year period. In October, it announced it had bought Darwin-based offshore marine services business Territory Diving Services for $3 million cash and scrip plus a performance based earn-out. This came after Neptune announced a major fund raising, completed in November, with more than $16 million brought in from a rights issue, following an earlier placement of around $1 million. Mr Lange projected the acquisitions would boost Neptune’s revenue by about $27 million, to about $30 million from just more than $2 million in the year ending June 30 2006. He said he was not concerned about digesting such a rapid series of acquisitions, with Neptune’s relatively small corporate office providing capital and workflow opportunities to the acquired companies whose management will be largely preserved.

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