DataRoom AM: Flexigroup's GE exit

Flexigroup appears to be out of the race for GE Capital's consumer finance business, while Kerry Stokes has been quietly cashing in on sliding oil prices.

ASX-listed Flexigroup looks to have dropped out of the race for GE Capital’s consumer finance business.

Meanwhile, sliding commodity prices are raising questions for BHP Billiton but, by contrast, they seem only to be opening doors for Kerry Stokes.

GE Capital is in the second round of flogging its local consumer finance business this week, but ASX-listed Flexigroup appears to be out of the running.

According to The Australian, sources indicate Flexigroup is out of the Citi-led consortium that included private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and investment manager Varde Partners. There’s a chance it’s out of the race altogether.

The other players circling include private equity firm TPG Capital, while Macquarie Group and Pepper Group have apparently teamed up with The Carlyle Group potentially in as a backer.

In resources, the sliding price of iron ore and energy has analysts expecting BHP Billiton will report its lowest first-half earnings in a decade. The Australian reports this is raising more questions about the merit of BHP’s planned South 32 spin-off.

By contrast, Seven Group Holdings billionaire Kerry Stokes has been cashing in on the sliding price of energy, with The Australian reporting Seven has been quietly building up a 4.9 per cent stake in Beach Energy since last year. While the news only broke in the last few days, Seven is now sitting on a stake worth $180 million, or 13.8 per cent of the register.

While Seven has no immediate takeover aspiration for Beach, Stokes has a fine record of landing on company registers without any explicit plans, before eventually taking them over.

Global Infrastructure Partners has partnered up with Queensland Investment Corporation and Borealis to have a crack at the race for Port of Melbourne, which could go for as much as $5 billion.

Construction giant Lend Lease has won a $2.6bn contract to design and build Sydney’s planned NorthConnex Motorway. However, closer to the harbour, the company is still in a dispute with the Barangaroo delivery authority, which gaming billionaire James Packer is now becoming frustrated by.

In insurance, 15 not-for-profit and mutual health funds have formed an alliance to tackle the market dominance of the big two providers, Medibank Private and Bupa.

Elsewhere, The Australian Financial Review reports Domain Group is moving out of the company’s Sydney headquarters, increasing speculation the property business platform will be spun-off in some way.

Meanwhile, Caliburn’s Simon Mordant and Ron Malek are set to report as early as today that they’ve signed an agreement with an international investment bank to establish an Australian presence, the AFR reports.

The newspaper points to rumours of a listed player.

Boutique property group EG Funds Management has set its sights on property purchases worth up to $400m in the commercial space after securing an office building near Sydney’s Martin Place.

And finally, Spotless Group has agreed to its fourth acquisition in the last six month with the purchase of air-conditioning mechanical services provider AE Smith.