Australia's Major Infrastructure Groups
Infrastructure is more than just blueprints and buildings—it is how a nation does business and meets the needs of a growing population and flourishing economy. By building physical and organizational structures, the following five companies equip Australia with the facilities and services it requires to maintain strong economic growth.
When you’re owned by Leighton Holdings, Australia’s largest project development and contracting group, you have the funding and resources to become one of the leading construction and services contractors in the APAC region. That’s exactly what Thiess has done.
A broad range of capabilities helps Thiess maintain a strong construction portfolio with significant diversity across the civil, process, tunneling, rail and building sectors. As far as infrastructure projects go, Thiess can deliver roads , freeways, busways, rail, dams, mine infrastructure, pipelines and power.
The company is currently working on the largest Public Private Partnership infrastructure project in Australia—Brisbane’s $4.8 billion Airport Link. Along with John Holland, Thiess will operate and maintain the Airport Link for a 45-year concession period.
Though the Australian Top-100 company offers a diverse range of services, from mining to water provisions, its Works division is particularly strong. Downer EDI provides services for the development, asset management and maintenance of public and private infrastructure including roads, rail track and public open spaces.
In August 2010, Downer reported over $20 billion of work-in-hand across all sectors, as well as revenue of $2.1 billion for the Works division alone. The company recently signed a five-year Maintenance Alliance Agreement with VicRoads, valued at $125 million, to perform road maintenance and deliver routine, periodic and minor improvements to the road network in Victoria. Downer CEO and Managing Director Geoff Knox said the contract confirms Downer’s reputation as a market leader in road maintenance services.
Another company owned by Leighton Holdings, John Holland is one of the nation’s most diversified contracting, engineering and service providers. The group consists of regional construction businesses that work in conjunction with national specialist businesses.
John Holland’s expertise covers a wide range of capabilities, from tunneling to power, water to communications and engineering and construction solutions in the resources and energy sectors, along with rail, contract mining, aviation maintenance as well as all building markets.
John Holland, as part of a joint venture with Veolia Water, was recognized at Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s 2010 National Infrastructure Awards, with Sydney’s Desalination Project receiving the Government Partnership Excellence Award. With production of water commencing in January 2010 and a final capacity of 250 million liters a day, the Sydney Desalination Plant is the biggest water infrastructure project completed in NSW since Warragamba Dam and is Australia’s largest desalination plant.
“This award builds on our reputation for project delivery excellence in New South Wales and our partnership approach to major infrastructure projects, particularly in the water sector,” said Glenn Palin, John Holland’s Group Managing Director.
Operating for nearly fifty years, Macmahon has delivered some of Australia’s key projects including roads, rails, bridges, dams, ports, pipelines and resources infrastructure. The established mining contracting and civil construction company has grown to become an ASX/S&P 200 company with an annual turnover in excess of $1.4 billion. With a track record of accomplishments in all areas of civil engineering, the Construction Business prides itself on providing customers with a flexible, responsive and focused partnership.
In August 2010, Macmahon reported a 120 percent increase in full year profits, achieved through securing $2.1 billion of new contracts and extensions, including a $90 million rail contract by Queensland Rail for civil works within the Goonyella to Abbot Point Expansion Project.
Asciano is one of the nation’s major transport infrastructure companies, owning and operating a range of infrastructure assets including ports and rail across Australia.
The company’s presence in the ports and rail sector has developed from a collection of regional port facility management and stevedoring businesses into an extensive network of general port and stevedoring operations and nationwide freight rail businesses.
Asciano currently has over $8 billion transport infrastructure assets and operations, including Patrick Corporation and its container terminal operations, as well as Pacific National, PortLink and Port Services and extensive general stevedoring operations.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.