DataRoom AM: AGL triumph

A second AGL victory over the ACCC in ten years is a bad look for the competition regulator, while a new offer for Roc Oil could see it drop merger plans with Horizon Oil.

AGL Energy has won its second takeover battle with the competition regulator in a little over a decade in a case that should have wider ramifications for the competition policy landscape.

Elsewhere, there’s a twist in the planned merger of Roc Oil and Horizon Oil, Baosteel takes a big step towards full control of Aquila Resources, Rio Tinto lays talk of a diamond sale to bed and bidders continue to circle Harry Triguboff’s Meriton empire.

AGL Energy’s $1.5 billion play for NSW’s Macquarie Generation is set to proceed after the Australian Competition Tribunal overturned the ACCC’s March decision to block the deal. It represents AGL’s second successful challenge of an ACCC decision this century, but what does it say for the influence of the head competition regulator? Perhaps the competition policy review can work that one out.

Also in energy, advancement of the $800m merger between Roc Oil and Horizon Oil has been halted as Roc this week received a fresh offer from an unnamed party. The boards of both groups had backed the ‘merger of equals’, but the ‘non-binding’ approach by a third party could see Roc walk away.

Progress with the takeover of Aquila Resources appears a little smoother as the firm’s co-founder Charles Bass joins the queue of sellers to suitor Baosteel. Bass follows fellow co-founder Tony Poli in backing the bid, meaning Baosteel essentially already has 60 per cent of the register secured (40 per cent through the founders and 20 per cent it already owned).

Elsewhere in resources, mining giant Rio Tinto has confirmed to analysts its diamond division is not for sale, according to The Australian Financial Review. The paper said both UBS and Deutsche Bank analysts had been informed the diamonds business was improving, with 2013 plans to sell the division a distant memory.

In property, Harry Triguboff’s Meriton property empire continues to draw the interest of suitors, with Hong Kong’s Country Garden named as one of several Chinese-linked companies to have tested the waters on a full or partial takeover.

Also in property, Leighton Holdings appears to be making good on a promise to simplify its business, putting its 50.6 per cent stake in residential property group Devine on the market. The move leaves Devine, listed on the ASX, ripe for a takeover, with Leighton in line to receive between $80m and $90m.

In retail, Lorna Jane’s owners -- CHAMP VenturesLorna Jane and Bill Clarkson -- are preparing to receive indicative offers for the clothing brand next week. The list of likely bidders includes The Carlyle GroupKKRBain CapitalAdvent International and Leonard Green, the AFR reports.

M&A activity is also heating up in the gaming sector as poker machine maker Aristocrat Leisure yesterday revealed takeover talks with a US target. The firm said a deal was not yet sealed, but it appears a purchase of Video Gaming Technologies isn’t far away.

Meanwhile, Macquarie Group appears to be getting into a more acquisitive groove once again, mulling a bid in the partial sale of Terra Firma’s $4bn AWAS aircraft leasing division, according to the AFR. An indicative offer is expected to be forthcoming next month.

Finally, InterOil could return to Australian markets this year via a dual-listing, almost a decade after abandoning the ASX for the New York Stock Exchange, the AFR reports, while Lend Lease has offloaded its stake and management rights in the UK’s Bluewater Shopping Centre for £696m ($1.22bn).

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