DataRoom AM: InterOil intrigue

InterOil ponders a return to the local market, while Crown and Echo are set to duel it out for the rights to Brisbane’s second casino.

Former ASX-listed firm InterOil continues to mull a return to the local market as progress is made at its Papua New Guinea projects -- but talk of a 2014 reappearance appears overly optimistic.

Elsewhere, Crown and Echo remain intent on claiming the rights to Brisbane’s second casino, Estia Health emphasises its strengths ahead of a fourth quarter IPO and APA Group and Cheung Kong Infrastructure prepare to face off again over Australian gas assets.

Energy player InterOil is mulling a return to the local market, nine years after it shunned the ASX in favour of the US and Canada. Former BG chief executive Chris Finlayson, who has just moved into the chairmanship role, said that while the PNG-focused firm has other priorities, a relisting in Australia is something it will consider. The comments come less than two months after reports surfaced that a relisting could be on the agenda prior to the end of 2014, though that timeframe now appears unlikely.

The $2.5 billion InterOil exited the local market in June 2005 after five years on the primary exchange and is now primarily listed on the New York Stock Exchange (it delisted in Toronto in 2009). It also holds a less significant listing on the Port Moresby stock exchange.

In gaming, Echo Entertainment and Crown Resorts are readying for a head-to-head battle for the rights to the next Brisbane casino. According to The Australian Financial Review, Crown, which has teamed with China’s Greenland, is going full steam ahead despite an extensive development pipeline raising question marks about its likely debt levels in a few years’ time. It is believed that much of the development bill will be handled by Greenland, leaving Crown to focus on what will win the attention of the Queensland government when bids are due in mid-November.

While the risk of overcommitting on projects fails to deter Crown, the market has shown signs of concern, with stock in the gaming giant slumping over 7 per cent last week as investors failed to find positives in James Packer’s return to Las Vegas.

In the IPO market, Quadrant Private Equity is hoping to lure investors for its float of aged care operator Estia Health by promoting the firm’s proactive approach to acquisitions in what is a fragmented sector of the economy. The $1bn Estia is, like rivals Regis Aged Care and RetireAustralia, planning to hit ASX boards before the end of the year and the M&A focus is seen as one factor it will use to differentiate itself.

Meanwhile, IDP Education will also press forward with a listing this year, 12 months after 50 per cent owner Seek said the firm would be floated. The $400 million listing is believed to have attracted plenty of offshore interest.

Elsewhere, Moelis & Co is almost ready to launch a $100-$300m investment company in Australia, with the planned listed vehicle drawing plenty of attention from prospective investors.

In energy, the fight for control of infrastructure assets related to BG Group’s Queensland Curtis LNG project will see Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure face off with APA Group again, after CKI beat out APA in a race for Envestra last week. APA is unlikely to go it alone this time, however, with Japan’s Marubeni seen as a joint venture partner in the $3bn auction. Industry Funds Management and Hastings Funds Management reportedly lead the two other consortiums in the running.

Finally, transport firm McAleese will today announce a $65m deal to sell its Liquip tanker maintenance division to Dover Corporation, according to the AFR, while Malaysia Airlines will be taken private after the airline’s already stretched finances received a blow in the wake of the MH370 and MH17 disasters. State investment vehicle Khazanah Nasional, which currently owns 70 per cent of the carrier, will claim the shares it does not own.

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