SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Another group of investors and operators announced on Nov. 10 an offer for Asciano, the Australian port and railroad company that agreed in August to an acquisition by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.
New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Australian port operator Qube have offered to pay A$9.25 Australian dollars, or about $6.52, per share in cash and Qube stock for Asciano.
The Asciano board said on Nov. 10 that it is considering the proposal but that it continues to unanimously recommend the Brookfield proposal, which was amended on Nov. 9. The offer price is A$6.94 cash (reduced by the cash value of any special dividend paid) and 0.0387 Brookfield Infrastructure units per Asciano share, which has a current implied value of A$9.213 per Asciano share.
“The Asciano board remains committed to maximizing value for Asciano shareholders and will continue to keep the market informed of any material developments,” Asciano said.
Qube and its partners acquired a 19.99% stake in Asciano on the open market in October in a move to block Brookfield’s offer, which requires approval by at least 50.1% of Asciano’s shareholders.
Brookfield announced on Nov. 6 that it had acquired a 19.2% stake in Asciano by buying shares in the market.
Regulators have expressed antitrust concerns with the Brookfield-Asciano deal, and said a final decision would be made on Dec. 17.
Following the proposed acquisition, Brookfield, based in Canada, would own Asciano’s rail network and train operations in two of Australia’s eight states. This includes Pacific National, which operates on Brookfield’s rail network in Western Australia and transports products to Brookfield’s terminal in central Queensland.
Market participants have raised strong concerns about Brookfield’s ability and incentive to favor Pacific National through its Brookfield Rail and terminal businesses, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in October.
“The ACCC is concerned that the vertical integration will lead to a substantial lessening of competition in related markets for the supply of above rail haulage services in WA and Queensland,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “Competition concerns can be particularly acute in cases involving key infrastructure assets of a technical nature, which require many operational decisions to be made on a daily and longer-term basis.”