A new battle, this time a high stakes game between corporate raiders, has broken out on Australia’s waterfront.
Chris Corrigan’s Qube has confirmed it has successfully raided Asciano, grabbing a 19.9% stake and blocking a $12 billion takeover by Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure.
Qube is after what it calls Asciano’s first class Australian assets, Patrick Containers Terminals, and a few other bits and pieces of the logistics company.
Corrigan, the current chair of Qube and former managing director of the Patrick Corporation until it was taken over in 2006, enlisted Global Infrastructure Partners and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to build the blocking stake.
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. In a television series about the events, Corrigan was played by actor Geoff Morrell.
In this corporate battle, Qube funded a 6.3% interest in Asciano. The remaining holding was funded by the two partners. The 19.9% could have cost as much as $1.7 billion.
Qube believes a strategic combination with the Patrick Containers Terminals business as well as a small number of assets in the bulk, automotive and general stevedoring businesses at Asciano has the potential to create significant value.
The company says it has no present interest in acquiring any of Asciano’s businesses beyond the Patrick Businesses.
“Through more than 20 years of experience in Australian export-import supply chains, previously at Patrick Corporation and now at Qube, the Qube management team has demonstrated the ability to drive real value for shareholders, customers, and the broader economy,” says Qube managing director Maurice James.
“Over the last eight years we have built Qube into Australia’s leading provider of integrated logistics with operating divisions providing services for clients in both import and export cargo supply chains.”
This now includes Moorebank, in South Western Sydney, the largest new port-related infrastructure project currently being undertaken in Australia.
“The acquisition of the Patrick Businesses would further implement this strategy and provide significant opportunities to create substantial shareholder value, both through improving the operations of the Patrick businesses and through the benefits of combining the businesses with Qube’s assets,” he says.