The state government has selected investment bank Investec as its commercial adviser on land registry agency Landgate, adding to speculation it is a likely privatisation target.
Investec was the adviser to the South Australian government last year, when it privatised the state’s land titles service in a bumper $1.6 billion deal.
The NSW government reaped an even larger price of $2.6 billion when it sold its land titles office last year.
The Western Australian government has not used the word privatisation, instead saying Investec will assist the Treasury department and Landgate to prepare a scoping study to identify options for Landgate’s future.
“The scoping study will identify the options available to the government to realise value from the operations of Landgate and its assets,” the government said in a statement today.
“Investec will consider similar transactions to inform options for financial and commercial analysis.”
The final report is due to the government by mid-2018.
“Our minds are open to all options as we consider the future of what is a complex, and very important business that provides vital services to government and to the people of Western Australia,” she said.
“We remain committed to ensuring that the security and integrity of the data held by Landgate remains a prime consideration as we consider the options for the agency’s future.”
The McGowan government has been coy about using the word privatisation, after its campaign against the partial sale of Western Power was a key factor in last year’s election win.
Despite that, it has already approved an in-principle deal that amounts to the privatisation of Synergy’s renewable energy portfolio and is continuing to evaluate the potential privatisation of gaming agency TAB.
In today’s statement, it described the SA transaction as the “outsourcing” of land titling and valuations.
The South Australian sale, via a 40-year ‘concession’ period, was to Land Services SA, which is owned by Macquarie Group and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board.
The NSW government sold its land titles office, via a 35-year lease, to a consortium led by Westpac subsidiary Hastings Funds Management and Sydney-based First State Super.
Landgate provides the state’s land administration system, land valuation services and authoritative location information.
It has operated as an independent statutory authority since it was established by the Carpenter Labor government in 2007.