DataRoom AM: Lining up Link

Another billion-dollar-plus business looks likely to join ASX boards next year, while an offshore investment fund puts in an offer for cinema chain Hoyts.

The float of Medibank Private captured much of the IPO attention this year, but a number of big name floats appear set to share the limelight in 2015 as a third billion-dollar-plus candidate joins the IPO pipeline.

Elsewhere, a sale of Hoyts could be complete by year’s end, Ten Network’s auction risks falling flat, Oil Search eyes off Talisman assets and the sale of Menora Foods hits a speed bump.

The latest billion-dollar-plus business seen likely to join ASX boards next year is share registry and data firm Link, as major shareholder Pacific Equity Partners keeps its eyes peeled for an exit opportunity. The business could secure a valuation as high as $3 billion through an IPO, with the last quarter of 2015 seen as the most likely timing.

This time last year, PEP offloaded a 25 per cent stake in Link for $200 million amid talk of a 2014 IPO that would value the firm at between $800m and $1bn. It shows how quickly the market moves (even after factoring in acquisitions), but while the IPO window may be firmly open right now, it might not be the case by the time Link joins the likes of MYOB and WiseTech Global in listing in 2015.

It’s not the only big deal in the offing at PEP, as the private equity firm mulls a sale of cinema chain Hoyts. According to The Australian Financial Review, offshore investment fund ID Leisure International Capital has put forward an offer and may secure its target before Santa gets to work. A trade sale could reap about $900m and comes soon after PEP put float plans on the backburner.

Meanwhile, the deadline for indicative bids has come and gone at Ten Network, with Foxtel and Discovery Communications’ 20-25c share offer seen as the leading, and perhaps only, bid. The proposal is unlikely to stir much interest from Ten shareholders and the prospect of the auction coming to nothing is rising by the day.

The main interest centres on whether another bid was forthcoming by the deadline as conflicting media reports surfaced overnight. At best, it seems that Saban Capital may have lobbed in a lowball offer at a level below the Foxtel proposal.

In energy, UBS has been tapped by the PNG government to refinance a $350m loan relating to its complex purchase of a stake in ASX-listed Oil Search, according to the AFR. The news follows reports of a $300m offer from Oil Search for the PNG assets of Talisman Energy. However, Talisman -- a willing seller -- has hinted it has yet to receive an enticing offer.

Elsewhere, the $100m sale of Menora Foods has hit a minor roadblock as prospective buyers take their time on due diligence. The food distribution business had hoped to wrap up a sale by Christmas but it appears a deal will have to wait until after the New Year celebrations have concluded.

Finally, Miles Advisory is shopping around the home and business division of O’Brien Glass as private equity and trade buyers line up to secure control of the division before the end of 2014, the AFR reports.

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