DataRoom AM: Packer’s Vegas flop

James Packer’s bid for a Las Vegas casino is trumped by Blackstone Group, while Wilmar International boosts its offer for Goodman Fielder.

Depending on how you scored the infamous Battle of Bondi, James Packer has just lost his second fight in a fortnight. Looking for some better luck in Las Vegas, the gaming mogul has fallen short in a bid for one of the newest resorts on The Strip.

Elsewhere, a revised takeover bid is put forward to Goodman Fielder, the biggest IPO on the market this year is well received, Treasury Wine Estates refutes talk of a bid for its US assets and BHP Billiton encounters a major hurdle to its latest divestment plans.

James Packer has enjoyed little luck in Las Vegas, having seen $2 billion in investments blow up around the GFC, and that doesn’t appear likely to change soon after the billionaire saw his firm’s bid for the Deutsche Bank-owned Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas trumped by Blackstone Group. Time will tell whether Packer and his gambling empire Crown Resorts were unlucky to miss out, but expect a private equity firm of the ilk of Blackstone to extract greater value out of the loss-making property than a financial services firm in Deutsche.

Blackstone handed over $US1.7bn to secure the deal and while it is not clear how far Crown went with its offer, it has been reported as one of just two underbidders.

Closer to home, Singapore’s Wilmar International and Hong Kong’s First Pacific have reportedly revised their 65c a share bid for ASX-listed food manufacturer Goodman Fielder, adding an extra 5c after meeting stern resistance to a deal. Goodman entered a trading halt yesterday pending details of the new $1.4 billion proposal, which is believed to have the partial support of key shareholders Perpetual and Ellerston Capital.

Assuming the reports of shareholder support are correct, the suitors will have a combined 20 per cent of the firm, but the deal will still hinge on the backing of the FIRB and Goodman’s board, which has indicated it would be amenable to a deal at the right price -- though that price may be a couple of cents higher still.

Treasury Wine Estates has been forced into an almost constant state of denial by speculation around a sale of its US assets, with its latest move being the rejection of rumours of an approach by Constellation Brands. The wine group’s US division (Beringer) has allegedly come under close scrutiny from both Pernod Ricard and Constellation this month, but if they are interested in lobbing a bid, TWE is blissfully unaware and scarcely interested.

In the IPO market, Genworth Australia has successfully raised $583 million through a bookbuild this week, with pricing towards the upper end of its published range. The company, which called on Goldman SachsCBA EquitiesMacquarie Capital and UBS for the largest float of the year to date, is due to list on May 20.

Another IPO candidate, Peters Ice Cream, could dodge markets after all, with speculation its owners will now sell the iconic firm to France’s R&RPacific Equity Partners has been running a dual-track sales process for the $400m business and a conclusive decision on whether to float or pursue a trade sale appears imminent.

Finally, yesterday this column discussed the opportune timing of BHP Billiton’s proposed divestment of the Nickel West business in WA thanks to the 10 per cent lift in the nickel price over the past week alone. Well, that sentiment has quickly changed, with prices crashing 11.5 per cent in less than 48 hours. Talk about putting the mockers on. It might be back to the drawing board for BHP if the price doesn’t quickly stabilise.

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