The bidding war for Australian ports and rail group Asciano just intensified with Chris Corrigan’s Qube making another offer.
Already this week, the China Investment Corporation announced it is working with Global Infrastructure Partners to buy Asciano. The sovereign wealth fund said it had a 19.99% holding in Asciano.
Global Infrastructure Partners is part of the Qube and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board bid. The consortium took a 19.9% blocking stake, costing about $1.7 billion, to stop Brookfield Infrastructure’s $8.9 billion bid going to 100%.
And today Qube offered $6.97 cash and 1 Qube share for every Asciano share, an implied combined value of $9.07.
Asciano shares last traded at $8.50. The latest bid values the company at $8.9 billion.
The board of directors of Asciano have formally supported the Brookfield Infrastructure offer. It says it is considering the latest proposal.
The latest proposal would see Qube acquiring Asciano’s Patrick container terminal business and a 50% interest in the ports business Australian Amalgamated Terminals. This would cost Qube about $2.65 billion.
The other members of the consortium — Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Global Infrastructure Partners and China Investment Corporation — would acquire the rail business of Asciano.
The remaining bulk, auto and ports services businesses and 50% interest in ACFS Port Logistics Pty Ltd would be sold off.
Qube says combining Ports with Qube under a single ownership and management structure will generate an estimated $30 million to $50 million a year of benefits from synergies and business improvement projects over two to three years
“We know Asciano’s Ports businesses better than any other potential owner,” says Qube managing director Maurice James.
“The ports are a core element for Qube to provide customers seamless coverage through Australia’s international trade supply chain.”
Chris Corrigan, chairman of Qube, was the managing director of the Patrick Corporation, which essentially owned Qube’s containers terminals, until it was taken over in 2006.
Corrigan transformed, with the backing of the John Howard federal government, Australia’s waterfront in the late 1990s using lockouts and strike breakers to smash a union hold on the supply of labour.
The ACCC is reviewing both takeover proposals.