Brookfield has suspended its plan to sell the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal in Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has impacted markets and led to domestic and international travel restrictions.

A source told IPE Real Assets that the coal terminal Queensland, which is likely to attract offers between A$2bn (€1.1bn) and A$2.5bn, has received strong interest, “but due to market volatility and travel restrictions (both owing to coronavirus), we have paused the process and will pick it up later, at an appropriate time.”

Brookfield was looking to either a trade sale or to list the port on the Australian Securities Exchange. IPE Real Assets understands there were overseas groups interested in both tracks to divestment.

It is widely believed that one of these parties was Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS), which is working with the New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners. The other bidder was thought to be Hong Kong-based CK Infrastructure.

Investment banking sources said travel restrictions placed on South Koreans had made it difficult for a transaction to take place because they made it difficult for parties to view the terminal and to meet the operational team during due diligence.

Similarly, events of recent weeks had it had made it difficult for Brookfield to market the asset abroad.

Dalrymple describes itself as the third-largest coal export terminal in the world, with 85m tonnes per annum of export capacity.

Brookfield took control of the port in 2009 when it acquired the failed Babcock & Brown Infrastructure. The port is operated under a 99-year lease from the Queensland government.

The proposed sale of Dalrymple is the first big casualty in Australia of the coronavirus pandemic.