DataRoom AM: Medibank temptation

Medibank Private is reportedly considering incentives to entice mum and dad investors ahead of its $4bn float, while Treasury Wine’s chief gets on the front foot.

Medibank Private is looking into whether mum and dad investors need an extra push to jump on the anticipated $4 billion float. The company is confident its offer is strong enough.

There’s a lot of IPO news around -- with GPT, Surfstitch and Ashley Services Group featuring. Meanwhile, Treasury Wine Estates boss Michael Clarke won’t be pushed around by the company’s troubled history or emboldened suitors.

Medibank Private is reportedly investigating whether it needs to establish retail incentive structures to get mum and dad investors on board with the expected $4 billion float.

The Australian Financial Review understands retail stockbrokers have been asked to gauge the enthusiasm for Medibank Private. So far, the newspaper claims, Medibank is confident it’ll win enough investor interest without extra incentives.

Staying with IPOs, sources say listed property trust GPT Group is working with UBS to float its suburban office properties into a separate entity on the ASX, according to The Australian.

The newspaper said a spokesperson for GPT said the company hadn’t made a decision on whether to opt for a listed or unlisted option. The IPO proposal is thought to be worth $300 million.

Also, after buying out Billabong International’s 51 per cent stake in Surfstitch, the company’s owners intend to launch an IPO. And HR company Ashley Services Group booked a very strong debut yesterday, jumping 14.5 per cent to finish its first session at $1.90.

Treasury Wine Estates chief executive Michael Clarke made it clear to investors yesterday that his company isn’t just the hunted. The new boss said he’s got his eye on the premium end of the US market and alliances are as much of a possibility as acquisitions.

“You can rest assured they will be financially accretive to the organisation, if we were to progress on that front,” said Clarke.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and, reportedly, TPG are in TWE’s dataroom for a potential $3.4bn bid. As Business Spectator’s Stephen Bartholomeusz points out, Clarke might have sound plans for TWE, but the company’s chequered history make it vulnerable to suitors.

Resource trading giant Glencore International is keeping a lid on the attention its potential interest in BHP Billiton’s Nickel West business is getting.

Chief executive Ivan Glasenberg wouldn’t be drawn on the notion that Glencore is a prime candidate for the business, which BHP has left out of its suite of assets that will be spun off as part of NewCo.

“While they (BHP) are in the process (of demerging), I cannot comment on what they are doing,’’ Mr Glasenberg said, according to The Australian.

Meanwhile, the same newspaper reports BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie, who is in London selling the spin-off plan to investors, will tell big shareholders it’s “only a matter of time” before the miner starts directing a great share of returns to shareholders.

Speaking of spin-offs, Woolworths’ property spin-off Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group has picked up seven neighbourhood centres in the last financial year, while disposing of seven smaller ones, and it’s not finished.

“While the competition to acquire quality neighbourhood shopping centres has increased, we are confident that we can continue to leverage our relationships and knowledge in the sector to source further off-market deals that meet our investment criteria,” said SCA chief executive Anthony Mellowes.

Asciano chief executive John Mullen wasn’t being drawn yesterday on speculation the company is in talks to sell almost half its stevedore business Patrick to China Merchants for $1.1bn. 

However, he did say the company is “looking for a partner to enhance our customer relationships,” and onlookers point out that China Merchants has the kind of presence in China that Asciano would like. 

Elsewhere, Nathan Tinkler’s hold on his racehorse breeding empire Patinack Farm has finally broken, with retail billionaire Gerry Harvey calling in a debt to Tinker. Harvey plans to offload the business in September.

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