An end to the multi-billion dollar battle for control of ports and rail freight company Asciano is near.
Two two warring sides, a consortium led by Qube and one by Brookfield Infrastructure, have decided to start talks to see if they could launch a joint takeover pitched at $9.05 billion in cash.
The all cash proposal is at $9.28 a share.
Qube shares jumped more than 10% to $2.215 on news of a possible joint bid. Asciano was trading at $9.01, up 1.5%.
Asciano has been under takeover offer since July last year, with the action switching between Brookfield, which first made an offer, and Qube.
Both groups went on market to grab blocking stakes to ensure the other couldn’t get 100% of Asciano.
Until now, the bids have been a mixture of shares and cash, valuing the company at around $9 billion, depending on shares prices. The latest proposal is superior in that it is all cash.
A joint bid would see Chris Corrigan’s Qube acquire Asciano’s Patrick container terminals in a 50-50 joint venture with Brookfield for $2.9 billion.
Then Qube’s consortium partners — Global Infrastructure Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and China’s CIC Capital — would join with some of Brookfield’s consortium to buy Asciano’s Pacific National rail haulage.
“The parties will undertake negotiations as expeditiously as possible to determine whether an improved proposal can be developed,” according to the Qube consortium.
A $9.1 billion by Qube, in a mixture of cash and shares, is currently the preferred bid by Acsiano. takeover bid, pushing aside the bid by Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure.
Asciano had invited Brookfield Infrastructure to improve its $8.9 billion offer, but it hasn’t yet upped the bid.
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.
With the backing of the John Howard federal government, Corrigan transformed Australia’s waterfront in the late 1990s using lockouts and strike breakers to smash a union hold on the supply of labour.