DataRoom AM: Medibank cover

Medibank looks destined for an IPO regardless of pending scoping study results, while the stakes are high for James Packer’s Japanese ambitions.

The scoping study into Medibank Private is set to indicate a trade sale will raise more than an ASX listing. So why will the government likely opt for the latter?

Elsewhere, James Packer sizes up his competition in Japan, another IPO prospect drops away, a bold sale plan is drawn up for BrisConnections and Oil Search readies to spruik a big acquisition.

Medibank Private is back in the news ahead of the completion of a scoping study into the government asset this week. Reports suggest the Coalition will most likely pursue an IPO worth around $4 billion, despite speculation the scoping study will highlight a trade sale as the most valuable divestment option. The government is believed to be more comfortable selling a float to the public given the temptation for suitors to chop jobs upon buying the state asset.

Lead advisers, meanwhile, could be hired within weeks as the government makes it clear that no other major asset sales are on the immediate agenda.

It is no secret that James Packer sees the Land of the Rising Sun as his next big avenue for growth, willing to spend upwards of $5 billion on developing a casino in Japan under the Melco Crown banner. However a conference held for the prospective operators of the first two casinos in the country has highlighted the stern competition on tap, with Las Vegas Sands willing to spend upwards of $10 billion and several other big US names including Wynn Resorts, MGM and Caesars Entertainment also vying for the Japanese government’s attention.

The stale IPO market this year is expected to heat up very shortly, though debt collecting business ACM Group will have nothing to do with it. The company has aborted plans for a $300 million float as demand from institutional investors failed to flatter.

Meanwhile, Macquarie Group is believed to be pushing for a float of bankrupt BrisConnections as a small field of suitors jostle for control of the owner of the Airport Link toll road in Brisbane. According to The Australian Financial Review, lenders are aware that Queensland Motorways – which is also up for auction – is the clear frontrunner and are mulling an ASX listing to create pressure on QML to pay more. It’s a bold strategy.

Papua New Guinea-focused Oil Search went into a trading halt yesterday ahead of a “material” acquisition. The smart money is on the company confirming it has bought into InterOil Corp’s Elk and Antelope gas fields in PNG for around $1 billion. An official announcement is due Thursday.

Ramsay Healthcare is looking to Asia to spur growth in coming years. The Asian Century looms large and Ramsay boss Christopher Rex yesterday told shareholders that its expansion into the region, which includes forays into Indonesia and Malaysia, could also branch out into China and Vietnam.

Also in healthcare, Australia’s largest radiology provider, I-Med Network Radiology, has been sold to a consortium led by Swedish private equity firm EQT Mid Market. The deal, likely for around $600 million, is due to be settled in July.

Finally, gas explorer Sundance Energy, which last week delayed plans to list on the Nasdaq exchange in the US, has lifted the size of its local capital raising by 30 per cent to $80 million.