Gunns is expected to again halt trading as a capital raising deal is arranged, while the new Queensland treasurer is in the spotlight regarding the QR National stake.

Gunns shareholders, who have watched tearfully as the timber company's share price has fallen some 95 per cent over the past five years, might be in for more disappointment this morning. Apparently, the company's capital raising is still some time away, so it is expected to extend its trading halt – again. The Austar-Foxtel merger could also be held up as talks with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ran into the weekend, threatening a shareholder vote next week. Meanwhile, QR National will be watching Queensland's new government for clues about what it will do with its big stake in the rail company, and Joseph Gutnick progresses the float of his Queensland phosphate tenements. Elsewhere, ANZ Banking Group looks to Burma for growth, as other corporates eye China's debt markets for funding. And Macquarie Group might battle General Electric for a slice of aircraft leasing company Jackson Square.


Gunns is understood to be planning an equity raising worth at least $200 million, which would triple the company's market capitalisation, according to The Australian Financial Review. Expect the company to ask the ASX to extend its trading halt as it hammers out the details.

Sources say Gunns, which is being advised by Credit Suisse and Moelis & Co, is searching for four or five big investors to underwrite the issue.

Austar, Foxtel

Keep an ear out for the competition watchdog's thoughts about the Foxtel-Austar merger, after parties spent the weekend finessing the wording of the undertaking, The Australian reports. Foxtel is said to be seeking access to non-exclusive content, including foreign programming, but not Australian sports like AFL or partly-owned programming.

While the ACCC is not expected to block the deal, it could be delayed if talks continue into the week. If the competition watchdog doesn't have a decision by Thursday – its official deadline – Austar may have to postpone a shareholder vote scheduled next Friday.

QR National

QR National is back in the spotlight after the Labor party's electoral wipeout in Queensland. Incoming Queensland treasurer Tim Nicholls must now decide when to sell the state's 34.9 per cent stake in the public rail company, and bankers, who are already considering how to handle the sale, are watching closely, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Investors, too, will be keen to hear from the treasurer-elect, in an effort to gauge what affect his decision might have on the company's share price.

GVK, Alpha Coal

Indian conglomerate GVK has whittled down potential bidders for its stake in Alpha coalmines to about six, as it progresses a sale that could fetch up to $4 billion, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Most of the interest surrounding the $10 billion Galilee Basin development, which also counts Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting as a shareholder, is from Asia, the newspaper says. Citigroup is running the sale of GVK's stake in the mine, while Macquarie is running the separate sale of stakes in related infrastructure. Expect to hear more by June, as all parties seek to wrap up the transaction before the close of fiscal 2012.

Joseph Gutnick, Paradise Phosphates

Joseph Gutnick is one step closer to floating his Paradise Phosphates, his Queensland phosphate tenements, after the high-profile mining entrepreneur signed on fund manager Acorn Capital as a major investor, according to The Australian.

Acorn's investment – $7.5 million in convertible notes – gives the project an implied market value of about $100 million, and deal documents reveal hopes for a public offering worth $20-$30 million. It's unclear whether Paradise will seek more funding off-market, as Gutnick still hasn't said how he plans to finance start-up costs for the mine.

ANZ Banking Group

ANZ Banking Group chief Mike Smith has told The Australian the bank plans to boost its operations in Burma, Thailand, Korea, Japan and parts of the Middle East, although he is pursuing an organic growth strategy rather than acquisitions.

The bank is also set to have a much bigger focus on China, where it hopes to expand after being granted a license to do business there – including trading in the yuan. The bank plans to hire a Chinese currency team, and is also considering another "dim sum" bond, which is denominated in yuan.

Wrapping up

ANZ, which became the first Australian company to issue a yuan-denominated bond in 2010, isn't alone in its interest in Chinese debt markets. HSBC Australia's head of debt capital markets, Sean Henderson, told The Australian Financial Review he expects more local corporates to look for funding in the Middle Kingdom, which is, of course, already a major trading partner. Watch this space for more.

In other news, Melbourne's MaxiTrans is understood to be in final talks over a deal to buy Queensland Diesel Spares, in a move that would give the buyer more exposure to the state's booming mining sector, according to Fairfax.

Macquarie Group is said to be considering going up against big names like China Development Bank and General Electric to bid for Oaktree Capital Management's stake in aircraft leasing company Jackson Square, according to The Australian Financial Review, which says the deal could be worth up to $3 billion. And finally, The Australian reports that Australian Infrastructure Fund has sold its stake in Sydney light rail owner Metro Transport Sydney to NSW for $19.8 million. If AIF continues to offload non-core assets like MTS, Macquarie analyst Ian Myles said the fund could become an attractive takeover target.

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