Port of Virginia bids under review

An independent review panel could be selected by the end of Q1 as the Port of Virginia evaluates three bids from The Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs and real estate manager CenterPoint Properties.

The Port of Virginia is poised to move ahead with the evaluation of three historic bids for the operation and management of its port assets, according to a senior port executive.

Jeff Keever, the Port’s Senior Deputy Executive for External Affairs, said an independent review committee is set to be selected by the end of the first quarter to help evaluate the bids submitted last year. 

The port is in discussions with APM, the international port terminal operator, about an operating lease for its terminal, Keever said. The terminal, located in Portsmouth, Virginia, is one of four existing terminals located at the port which are operated by a publicly-owned company called Virginia International Terminals. The operating lease would put Virginia International Terminals in charge of APM’s terminal, giving it control over all of the port’s terminal assets.

The discussions over the lease are expected to conclude this quarter, Keever said. Once they’ve concluded, the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Sean Connaughton, will announce his chosen candidates for the independent review committee, which will evaluate the bids. That announcement is expected in the first quarter, Keever added.

Last year, private equity firm The Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners-backed marine terminal operator Carrix, and Chicago-based industrial real estate manager CenterPoint Properties submitted proposals to the port to operate its existing port terminals and to aid the development of a new terminal in Craney Island.

After all the bids were disclosed in August 2009, then-Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer was to appoint, designate a chair and schedule meetings for such a panel to evaluate the proposals. However, the decision was delayed owing to an upcoming election, which was ultimately won by rival, Republican Bob McDonnell.

The Commonwealth has, however, hired some advisors for the review. Law firm DLA Piper will serve as the legal advisor for the Commonwealth. A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation did not return a call seeking comment before press time.