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