Aus­tralia-led group bids $6.3b for lo­gis­tics firm As­ciano

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

An Aus­tralian-led con­sor­tium in­clud­ing a Chi­nese sov­er­eign wealth fund bid $6.30 bil­lion for ports and rail op­er­a­tor As­ciano to­day, kick­ing off a bid­ding war with a Cana­dian as­set man­ager.

Qube Hold­ings - lead­ing a group in­clud­ing China's CIC Cap­i­tal Cor­po­ra­tion, the Canada Pen­sion Plan In­vest­ment Board and in­vest­ment group Global In­fra­struc­ture Part­ners - said it had sub­mit­ted the of­fer with an im­plied value of A$9.17 per As­ciano share.

That val­ued the bid at A$8.95 bil­lion. The an­nounce­ment comes three months af­ter the con­sor­tium bought a 19.99 per cent stake in the Aus­tralian lo­gis­tics gi­ant and in­di­cated a de­sire to break up the busi­ness. The move is a di­rect chal­lenge to the A$9 bil­lion takeover bid re­vealed in July by Cana­dian as­set man­ager Brook­field In­fra­struc­ture Part­ners, which if suc­cess­ful would be the big­gest lo­gis­tics deal in Aus­tralian cor­po­rate his­tory.

Brook­field cur­rently has a stake of just over 20 per cent in As­ciano. "The of­fi­cial gun has been fired, so we've had this shad­ow­box­ing sit­u­a­tion where Brook­field and Qube and its con­sor­tium part­ners have been throw­ing non-bind­ing bids at each other," IG mar­kets an­a­lyst Evan Lu­cas said.

"This is bind­ing, so it's now a set, of­fi­cial price and a bid­ding war is un­der­way. The win­ners out of this are As­ciano share­hold­ers. They are ei­ther go­ing to get a higher price or a good deal, whichever way the board rec­om­mends them to go with." Brook­field is still wait­ing for the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion's ap­proval of its takeover bid. An ear­lier un­der­tak­ing was re­jected by the cor­po­rate watch­dog ow­ing to ques­tions about com­pe­ti­tion is­sues.

As­ciano's board said it re­ceived and was con­sid­er­ing Qube's pro­posal, but re­it­er­ated that it was con­tin­u­ing to unan­i­mously rec­om­mend the Brook­field of­fer at this stage.

As­ciano shares closed 4.00 per cent higher to A$8.84 Thurs­day in Syd­ney, while Qube ended the day's trade up 3.81 per cent to A$2.18.

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