DataRoom AM: Medibank rush

The government may be looking to take advantage of the strong IPO market by fast-tracking its float of Medibank Private, while 21st Century Fox makes a play to become the world’s biggest media company.

The government’s privatisation plans continue to gather pace as the float timetable for Medibank Private moves forward and decisions near on scoping studies for four other government assets.

Elsewhere, 21st Century Fox chases a takeover that would make it the largest media organisation in the world, a sale of SAI Global draws plenty of interest, Solomon Lew’s Smiggle remains in the spotlight for a sale or IPO and the planned takeover of David Jones faces its final test.

The $4 billion IPO of Medibank Private could proceed as early as October, The Australian Financial Review reports. The float had previously been tipped for November or the first quarter of next year, but a strong IPO market has the government tempted to push the timetable forward. It comes as the government prepares to choose the leaders of scoping studies into Defence Housing AustraliaRoyal Australian MintAustralian Hearing and the registries business of ASIC. A sale of the four businesses could provide $3bn to government coffers and investment banks are clamouring for a seat at the table.

In New South Wales, the state government’s push to sell the Delta Coastal plants has drawn plenty of interest, with indicative bids forthcoming from ERM PowerOrigin Energy, Japan’s Marubeni and China’s Shenhua, the AFR reports. A deal could fetch about $800 million.

Offshore, action in the media sector is heating up as 21st Century Fox lobs an $US80bn offer the way of Time Warner. The target is unwilling to engage at the moment, but should the Rupert Murdoch-led suitor get its way, it would create the world’s largest media group. Among the combined group would be brands like HBOFoxWarner BrosTwentieth Century Fox and TNT, but Time Warner’s CNN would likely be hived off to appease regulators.

Across the Atlantic, National Australia Bank has received some positive news in Britain as it looks to hive off $1.2bn worth of loans in the region. Four parties are believed to be eyeing the portfolio, including Oaktree Capital Management and Pimco, ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for final bids. All eyes remain on the UK business as a whole, however, amid hopes NAB may soon pull the trigger on a long-awaited divestment.

Closer to home, takeover target SAI Global is making progress on an auction of its assets, with a number of indicative proposals forthcoming this week, two months after Pacific Equity Partners sent a $1.1bn takeover offer its way. It will likely be another few weeks until the standards and assurance firm receives final offers from bidders.

Meanwhile, a spin-off of stationery chain Smiggle, part of Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments group, remains on the table as executives of the business commence an Asian trip to update investors on the business, according to the AFR. A $500m float or trade sale has been mooted, with speculation of a dual-listing in Singapore also running rampant, though a deal is not expected this year.

In energy, the long touted $2.5bn-$4.5bn sale of infrastructure assets related to BG Group’s Curtis Island LNG project is finally moving forward. The UK giant is requesting offers from interested parties by the end of August, with four parties considered to be in the running. Among them is a solo bid by Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure, while the other three are joint ventures, headed by Industry Funds ManagementHastings Funds Managementand APA Group, respectively.

Also in energy, another name has been added to the list of prospective suitors for Roc Oil, with China’s Fosun joining the widening group of candidates, according to the AFR. Time is running out, however, ahead of Roc’s planned merger with Horizon Oil next month.

Elsewhere, today may finally be the day for David Jones’ marriage to South Africa’s Woolworths to be sealed. The Federal Court will likely tick off the $2.15bn deal this afternoon, with the only possible hurdle a last-minute objection from ASIC. If all goes to plan, the DJS code will be removed from ASX boards tomorrow ahead of the takeover being sealed on August 1.

Finally, Caltex Australia has secured a $200m contract to supply diesel fuel to Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill project over the next two years, while graphite stock Syrah Resources is heightening its focus on its Balama project in Mozambique by pursuing a $20m demerger of its Tanzanian business.

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