All eyes in the media sector this year have been on the possible removal of reach rules that could lead to industry consolidation, but it’s the outdoor advertising sector that is currently drawing the eye of market heavyweights.
Elsewhere, the takeover fight for Ambassador Oil appears over, Harry Triguboff’s Meriton Group completes its largest ever acquisition, Crown Resorts pushes ahead with its buying spree and TPG Capital mulls a joint venture for its Treasury Wine Estates bid.
The owners of outdoor advertising giants APN Outdoor and oOh!media are both mulling divestments of the respective businesses later this year, according to The Australian Financial Review. APN, currently owned by Quadrant Private Equity, appears almost certain to go down the IPO route, while Champ Private Equity will consider both a trade sale and ASX listing of oOh!media.
The latter is believed to worth in the order of $500 million, just two-and-a-half years after Champ claimed control of the firm for $163m. It has, however, expanded the business through acquisitions since, including the $120m purchase of Eye Corp from Ten Network two years ago. While Ten will not be in the race, one prominent media outlet reportedly testing the waters on a sale price is Nine Entertainment.
Meanwhile, TPG Capital is looking to bring in another party on its conditional bid for Treasury Wine Estates, with Ontario Teachers Pension Plan a possible candidate to pick up TWE’s US assets, the AFR reports. The speculation follows another retreat in TWE’s share price yesterday, this time to below the offers of both suitors -- KKR and TPG -- in a sign investors are very doubtful on the prospect of a bidding war.
In resources, the near-term release of a feasibility study into the giant Carrapateena copper-gold project could put a rocket under slow progress from owner OZ Minerals to find a suitable JV partner. As many as a dozen firms are believed to be keeping a close eye on proceedings, with OZ not ruling out the prospect of a full sale should a tempting offer be forthcoming.
In energy, the complicated battle for control of Ambassador Oil appears close to a conclusion after suitor Magnum Hunter Resources said it would not raise its offer. It leaves fellow suitor Drillsearch Energy to move into a controlling position in a matter of weeks given it has already secured the backing of the target’s board.
Further west, Thailand’s PTTEP is in negotiations with as many as three firms over a partnership on its Cash-Maple gas fields in WA, the AFR reports. China’s Hongfu Fund and PTTEP’s majority owner PTT are tipped as the most likely partners.
In infrastructure, Morgan Stanley and Flagstaff Partners have claimed highly sought-after roles as advisors on the Victorian government’s $5 billion Port of Melbourne lease sale. The auction of the lease to the nation’s busiest port will kick off early next year.
In property, Harry Triguboff’s Meriton Group has completed its biggest ever purchase, securing a site in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery for $190m from Dexus Property Group. The news comes amid persistent rumours of interest in Meriton from Chinese investors.
Elsewhere, James Packer’s Crown Resorts has continued its spending spree, this time laying a small wager on the local sports betting sector via a full takeover of Betfair Australasia. The $10m deal will see Crown acquire the 50 per cent of the business it did not already own from joint venture partner Betfair Group.
Finally, Goodman Fielder boss Chris Delaney has dismissed concerns the firm’s suitors could abandon their takeover due to disappointing financial results, while Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure has lifted its stake in Envestra to 87.5 per cent, within touching distance of the 90 per cent compulsory acquisition threshold.