DataRoom AM: Macquarie offloads

Macquarie Group is reportedly reducing its stake in ANZ Terminals only months after it gained control, while two of Australia’s largest real estate firms could soon be on the auction block.

The acquisitive Macquarie Group has turned seller, seeking a willing buyer of 80 per cent of ANZ Terminals less than four months after it bought the firm.

Elsewhere, the race for LJ Hooker takes an interesting turn, Noni B appears a sure bet to fall into the hands of Alceon and the WA government moves forward with its asset sales program.

Macquarie Group is planning to slash its $525 million position in ANZ Terminals, according to The Australian Financial Review. The news comes just months after it secured control of the liquids storage group after outbidding REST Super and Oiltanking in a deal with former owner Morningside Private Investors. The investment bank is believed to be discussing a sale with as many as four prospective buyers and is hopeful of securing a deal to hive off 80 per cent of the business before the end of the month.

In property, interest in LJ Hooker from rival McGrath Real Estate earlier this year is believed to have kickstarted the current auction that is underway. It is rumoured that McGrath was seeking greater scale ahead of a float on the ASX. However, private equity firms are now in the front seat on the deal as LJ Hooker -- which was bought by a group of investors from Suncorp for $67m in 2009 -- has opted not to allow local competitors to conduct due diligence.

Another willing seller, Leighton Holdings, has reportedly seen the number of interested parties in its services division grow to two as Apollo Global Management joins the race against longtime frontrunner Ferrovial. The transaction is part of a $3 billion asset sell-off by the construction giant.

Meanwhile, progress is being made on state asset sales in Western Australia, with the Barnett government reporting an “unprecedented” number of inquiries into two ports and community and wholesale marketplace Market City. The two ports, Kwinana and Utah Point, could be worth about $500m, with mandates to be handed out to investment banks this year ahead of an auction in the back half of next year, according to the AFR.

Also in infrastructure, the battle to build the multi-billion dollar Stage Two tunnels for Sydney’s WestConnex project is heating up as five consortia vie for the coveted role. Leighton, Lend Lease and Ferrovial are among the list of candidates, with a decision expected in mid-2015.

In the IPO market, Green’s General Foods may use part of the proceeds from a potential float on incentives owed to management, in news that may not please investors. The AFR reports that the firm could be worth about $100m when it hits ASX boards later this year.

Another IPO candidate, Aconex, is also finding a minor roadblock in its pursuit of an ASX listing, with the AFR reporting that fund managers are wary of suggestions of a $400m valuation for the construction software firm. A deal will likely see about $120m raised, with about a third of the business up for grabs.

In retail, Noni B appears certain to fall into the hands of suitor Alceon as the firm’s founders are likely to accept the $16m deal this week. Should such a circumstance eventuate, it would take Alceon’s shareholding beyond 60 per cent, from its current level of 19.9 per cent.

Elsewhere, Expedia’s planned purchase of Wotif.com appeared over the line last week when the ACCC nodded its approval to the $705m deal, but a delay to similar regulatory approval in NZ has thrown yet another spanner in the works, with shareholders eagerly awaiting the postponed decision.

Finally, Orbis Gold has held detailed talks with a number of suitors after knocking back a bid from Canada’s SEMAFO on Monday, while Tabcorp has wrapped up the $105m acquisition of ACTTAB from the ACT government.