Bradken, Norcast near settlement

DataRoom: Court case over private equity firm flipping company close to conclusion.

A settlement appears imminent in the controversial Bradken (BKN) case, where the Australian company and its chairman Nick Greiner were found to have engaged in anti-competitive bid-rigging.

The Full Federal Court was due to hear the case on Monday but Bradken and Canada’s Norcast approached the court this morning with a proposal to settle.

Norcast successfully argued in the Federal Court that Mr Greiner and Bradken chief executive Brian Hodges had engaged in bid-rigging by reaching a secret agreement that private equity group Castle Harlan would bid for Norcast Wear Solutions and, if successful, sell the asset to Bradken.

Castle Harlan was the successful bidder at $US190 million but within seven hours it had sold the company to Bradken for $US209m, giving it a $US19m profit.

It was alleged that Bradken was the real bidder and that Castle Harlan was merely an intermediary, and the $US19m differential amounted to a de facto fee for its services.

Bradken said that it was excluded from the sale process, which was disputed by the vendor. Bradken is in the process of appealing the decision against it.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission appeared in the case this morning and opposed elements of the settlement deal.

The three judges said they were not prepared to make orders in the form requested by Bradken and Norcast. They said they would deliver their reasons “in due course”.