DataRoom AM: Leighton battle

Stockland and Singapore’s City Developments look set to go head-to-head for Leighton Properties, while Frasers Centrepoint is in line to claim Australand with its final bid.

The auction of Leighton Properties appears a race in two, with Stockland favourite among the locally-based prospective buyers. But will it again fall short in a high-profile takeover battle?

Elsewhere, Healthscope receives a warm welcome back onto ASX boards, Frasers Centrepoint declares its Australand offer final, Drillsearch hits a snag in its push for control of Ambassador Oil & Gas and another dairy firm hits the auction block.

Leighton Properties’ $7 billion portfolio of assets is in the sights of Stockland and Singapore’s City Developments amid expectations the business could sell for $500 million. Formal bids are due on Tuesday, The Australian Financial Review reports, and Stockland is reportedly keen to claim a prized asset after being the bridesmaid on a number of recent deals.

One such example is the fight for Australand, which appears all but won by Frasers Centrepoint after it yesterday declared its $2.6bn proposal ‘final’. Speculation persists that Stockland may re-enter the takeover race, but it will need to put its hand up soon given Frasers currently has the support of the target’s board.

Elsewhere, REA Group has claimed 17 per cent of the ASX-listed, but Asian-focussed, iProperty Group for $106m. The move highlights plans for more offshore activity from the owner of and complements the firm’s interests in China and Hong Kong.

In the IPO market, the largest listing on the ASX in four years has, as expected, been well received by investors as Healthscope shares rose 5 per cent on their debut. It was a strong showing for the now $3.8 billion hospital operator after it raised $2.26bn through the float and paves the way for a warm reception of Medibank Private later in the year.

Focus will now shift to Medibank as the government prepares to declare the winners of co-advisory roles for the float in the next 10 days, according to the AFR. The government has already opted for Goldman SachsDeutsche Bank and Macquarie Capital to serve as lead managers, but could appoint two to four co-leads as well as half a dozen co-managers in what many could argue is overkill. The $4bn Medibank float is now tipped for October, with the government undoubtedly keen to strike while the iron’s hort.

The positive Healthscope news yesterday could also provide another leg-up to what has been a mini IPO boom over the past couple of months, with BPS Technology the latest looking to cash in. BPS is hoping to hit ASX boards on August 21 with a valuation just shy of $60 million. The Bartercard owner is set to raise $28m through the listing process.

In energy, Drillsearch’s controlling stake in Ambassador Oil & Gas has been ceded after the Takeovers Panel ruled the acceptances of the target’s directors were invalid. Drillsearch trumped a rival $50m offer from Magnum Hunter Resources in June, but the panel ruled directors had been too hasty in supporting the deal. The news means 25 per cent of acceptances will be wiped, while non-director shareholders who had accepted the deal can exercise a withdrawal right. It opens the door for Magnum to return with a higher offer, though it will need to act fast as Ambassador directors can reaccept the Drillsearch proposal in a fortnight.

Meanwhile, the acquisitive action in the local dairy sector refuses to fade, with Longwarry Food Park putting itself on market. The Victorian milk processor has opened its books to as many as four bidders and could receive offers of as much as $150m, according to the AFR.

In tech, prominent local investors Daniel Petre and Craig Blair have closed a $60m fund dedicated to investment in tech startups, the AFR reports. The fundraising, which secured backing from client groups at WestpacUBS and Macquarie Bank, was originally planned to extend only as high as $40-$50m.

Finally, Clinuvel has received a $95m takeover offer amid rumours the biotech has a number of suitors circling.

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