Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics is in the last stages of a bid to lease at the largest vehicle terminal in Australia.

The logistics provider is one of two remaining bidders left in the race for the lease of the Webb Dock West automotive terminal at the port of Melbourne. It follows a bid submitted by WWL in May last year to develop the terminal.

The port of Melbourne announced in 2012 that it was investing AUS$400m ($411m) to expand its vehicle terminal at the Webb Dock West to handle annual capacity for 600,000 vehicles and add on-site, pre-delivery inspection (PDI) facilities.

The final decision is not expected until March or April of this year. Operations at the new terminal will then commence from the second half of 2015. The automotive terminal is part of a bigger A$1.6 billion ($1.42 billion) expansion of Australia's largest port.

The other group involved in the bidding process is Australian Amalgamated Terminals: a joint venture between subsidiaries of Asciano and Qube. The successful bidder will oversee the arrival of ships, providing temporary storage for vehicles and giving access to the terminal by stevedores and other operators.

The battle for the lease comes as WWL faces a $33m fine for price fixing in Japan, following an investigation into the shipping of cars between Asia and Europe.

It is understood that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has yet to reveal whether it will allow WWL to take on the lease. However, it is reported to be comfortable with the company’s bidding to redevelop the automotive terminal and operating it for the next 26 years. 

Should WWL prove successful, it would stand as one of the largest shipping companies holding managerial and operational sway at Australia’s largest vehicle gateway, which is estimated to be worth $400m. 

Mark Guscott, WWL’s commercial head, said the company was awaiting a decision by the port on the tender. He emphasised the fact that the shipping line held a global platform and also operated terminals in other parts of the world, including the US and Korea.

Guscott said: “We can't comment at the moment based on the confidentiality of the bid but we are excited to be involved. Port of Melbourne is adjudicating on the ability of the bidders.”