DataRoom AM: Echo hunt

The gaming group is reportedly seeking a hotels partner, while Carsales is kicking the tyres on iCar Asia.

Echo Entertainment is accelerating its pursuit of the rights to a new casino in Brisbane, mulling a new deal that could offer a point of difference to rival Crown Resorts.

Elsewhere, a major takeover play in Australia’s property sector appears less likely, weighs an Asian expansion and AngloGold Ashanti demerges its international assets.

Echo Entertainment is believed to be on the hunt for a respected hotel brand to add further weight to its bid for the rights to a new casino in Brisbane. Dorsett Hospitality is considered a frontrunner, according to The Australian Financial Review, with a potential deal to see Echo’s partners Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium (which owns part of Dorsett) claiming ownership of the site and Echo paying rent as operator of the casino. The Queensland government will make a call on the rights early next year, with Crown Resorts Echo’s only rival.

Meanwhile, speculation of a major Australian property play by US giant Simon Property Group has been put to bed as the US firm’s boss, David Simon, said the group had the balance sheet to pursue deals but Australia was not on its radar. In the past fortnight the firm has been strongly linked to local heavyweights Westfield Corporation, Scentre Group and CFS Retail.

In the online classifieds space, ASX-listed is mulling a takeover push for iCar Asia as the firm’s largest shareholder looks to divest its 27 per cent position, according to the AFR. Carsales already holds a 23 per cent stake in the $250 million Asian-based firm and is seen as the most likely suitor, but could opt for caution given iCar’s disappointing recent performance.

Also looking offshore for opportunities are the Future Fund and AustralianSuper, with British water and sewage businesses seen on the agenda. Among the opportunities is Southern Water, which was bought for £4.2 billion ($7.43bn) in 2007 by a group that included the Challenger Infrastructure Fund. A deal is, however, seen more unlikely than likely in the near-term.

In mining, South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti is set to follow the lead of BHP Billiton by spinning off a suite of assets. In AngloGold’s case this will see all its international operations, which include two gold mines in Western Australia, bundled into a new company next year, with a primary listing in London and secondary listings in the US and South Africa.

Elsewhere, Boral is ready to place its roof tiles operations on the auction block, potentially recouping $70m, according to the AFR. The division could attract interest from main rivals CSR and Brickworks. Boral is also reviewing its $100m timber business ahead of a possible sale.

In the IPO market, Regis Healthcare is set to raise $410m-plus through its float, with a bookbuild to take place next week. The IPO could value the aged-care operator at $1bn-$1.1bn.

Finally, Coastal Capital has denied AFR reports of a sell-down in its stake in Billabong, while mining services firm Macmahon Holdings has secured access to $317.5m via a new three-year funding facility.

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