Asciano confirms Patrick sales talks

Asciano is fielding offers for a non-controlling stake in Patrick Terminals.

Asciano Limited has confirmed it is in discussions with third parties to sell a non-controlling stake in its terminals and logistics division Patrick Terminals.

The announcement comes amid speculation China Merchants Group put forward a $1.1 billion offer for a majority stake in the business, which runs international container terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

That deal is thought to be at an impasse, however, as Asciano is reluctant to sell more than 49% of the business.

The Australian transport group says the sale discussions are preliminary and incomplete and no agreement had been reached with any parties at this stage.

Asciano also stated it gives no assurances an agreement will be reached or that any transaction will take place.

Asciano is being advised by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan on the process to sell the stake.

In April, China Merchants was part of a consortium that successfully bid $1.75 billion for a 99-year lease on the Port of Newcastle in eastern Australia put up for sale by the New South Wales state government. The port exports coal produced by mining companies including Glencore PLC, Peabody Energy Corp and Rio Tinto PLC.

China Merchants also has a ports joint venture with France's CMA CGM S.A., the world's third-largest shipping company. In May, CMA CGM lost out in bidding for the rights to build a new $1.6 billion container terminal in Melbourne.