David Jones executives are getting edgy about the motives of Solomon Lew for building a 9.9 per cent stake, with the best-laid plans now thrown out the window.
Elsewhere, Bank of Queensland sizes up Suncorp, Stockland appears ready to let Australand slip out of its reach and the planned Westfield restructure again goes on the line.
David Jones has pushed back a planned shareholder vote on the proposed $2.15 billion takeover by Woolworths SA by two weeks amid fears Solomon Lew could be in a position to block the deal.
DJs appealed to the Federal Court to shift the meeting to July 14 as it sought to “assess the implications of (Lew’s) shareholding”, with everyone still none-the-wiser as to the retail billionaire’s grand plan. While it is unsure whether Lew currently has enough firepower to scupper the takeover, the two-week delay will allow him more time to ensure he has built a blocking stake.
Today is judgement day Mk II for Frank Lowy’s grand $70bn property restructure plans as Westfield Retail Trust shareholders vote on the deal. There has previously been speculation that 1 per cent of votes had shifted in favour of the proposal, which would bring support to 75.1 per cent, above the 75 per cent acceptance threshold. However, the lack of gossip around the vote outcome in the past two days suggests it remains on a knife-edge.
The financial sector could be set for mid-tier consolidation, with The Australian Financial Review reporting rumours Bank of Queensland is keeping a close eye on the banking division of Suncorp. The latter is planning to simplify its business and analysts see the potential for it to divest its life insurance and banking units while making a play for ASX-listed health insurer NIB. Such an exchange would round out a position for Suncorp as an insurance-only heavyweight.
The M&A activity surrounding Australand appears much cleaner, with Stockland hinting it will not attempt to outdo the rival bid of Frasers Centrepoint. Frasers trumped Stockland’s $2.5bn play for Australand earlier this month and while the initial bidder may leave without its main target, it’s primed to secure an $80 million profit on its 19.9 per cent stake.
In gaming, analysts are pressing for an asset swap deal between Tatts and Tabcorp that would see Tabcorp claim Tatts’ wagering business in return for the Keno and Tabcorp Gaming Solutions operations, the AFR reports.
Elsewhere, Mantra Group is the latest to test the strength of the IPO market, hitting stock boards at midday today. The nation’s second largest hotel and resort operator has raised $239m through the float, which will value the group at $449m.
In energy, Linc Energy has arranged meetings with potential buyers of its Australian coal assets next week, according to the AFR. Linc reportedly hopes to draw bids of $100m-plus, with a float of the division possible if offers fall short of expectations.
Finally, New Zealand’s Infratil has confirmed it will press ahead with the divestment of its two Australian businesses, Lumo Energy and Direct Connect Australia. Indicative proposals on the energy companies are due by mid-July with the sale tipped to reap $300m.