DataRoom AM: Macquarie’s mega pitch

A Macquarie-led consortium has reportedly lodged a large bid for GE Capital’s consumer lending business, while Leighton’s services division may be sold by the end of the week.

A surprisingly large bid from a Macquarie Group-backed joint venture has put plenty of heat in the race for GE Capital’s local consumer lending business ahead of a sale in coming months.

Elsewhere, confusion surrounds the detail of Leighton’s imminent sale of its services division, KKR enters the conversation on the recent Bradken takeover offer and a Ten Network takeover remains uncertain despite the media outlet likely settling on a preferred bidder.

Details of bids for GE Capital’s local consumer lending business have emerged, with valuations of $1.5 billion to $1.9bn, largely put forward by suitors last week. Such figures are in line with expectations though there is believed to be an outlier in the form of the Macquarie Group, Pepper Australia and York Capital consortium, which may have offered a staggering $2.7bn.

The news would explain reports of The Carlyle Group joining the Macquarie JV, as it will likely be in need of extra funding to support such a price. GE is likely to choose shortlisted bidders next week ahead of a conclusion by the end of March next year.

Several media reports are now suggesting Apollo Global Management will claim control of Leighton’s services division before the end of the week, with the size of the deal potentially surprising on the upside depending on just what is included in the deal. According to The Australian Financial Review, Apollo is working on funding for a $900 million to $1 billion agreement with adviser Barclays Capital.

While Apollo will most likely gain operational control, there is also a school of thought that Leighton may retain a stake in its services operation. We will know for sure in a matter of days.

Meanwhile, Bain Capital and Pacific Equity Partners have called on private equity firm KKR to aid in their $872m bid for mining services firm Bradken. The suitors have reportedly struggled to draw much financing interest from banks and are hoping KKR can bridge the funding gap.

In media, Ten Network has settled on the joint 23c a share bid from Foxtel and Discovery Communications as the frontrunner should its board back a sale, according to the AFR. However, a deal remains up in the air as investors eagerly await an update at today’s Ten AGM.

In energy, investment bankers continue to press for asset sales at Santos, with the firm’s pipeline from Port Bonython to Moomba in South Australia potentially the most likely divestment given the complexity of selling the more high-profile Gladstone LNG pipeline in Queensland. It is believed the Cooper Basin-linked SA pipeline could provide Santos with a $1bn payday.

In property, 360 Capital Group has lifted its stake in rival industrial property fund Australian Industrial REIT from 7.7 per cent to 12.9 per cent in a possible sign of intent for a merger. A combination of the two would create an $800m industrial fund.

Elsewhere, a recent 15 per cent surge in the stock price of troubled education firm Vocation has stirred speculation of a push from 15 per cent stakeholder Brett Whitford to claim full control, while software development firm Readify is looking to raise $30m in a 2015 IPO with the help of Ord Minnett and Shaw Stockbroking, the AFR reports.

Finally, online sports retailer SurfStitch has managed to end its first day of trade on the ASX at its listing price after enduring a turbulent debut that at one point led it 6 per cent lower, while National Australia Bank has sealed the sale of a $2.3bn parcel of risky commercial real estate loans in the UK to Cerberus.

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