DataRoom AM: Peters' French scoop

French firm R&R looks to be closing in on Peters Ice Cream after it cancelled a planned IPO, while Spotless storms back into the public marketplace.

A final decision on the divestment path for Peters Ice Cream is imminent and it appears a trade sale will win the day despite a suddenly roaring IPO market.

Elsewhere, Spotless Group readies for what could be a strong return to the ASX, Woodside Petroleum all but rules out a play for Oil Search and Commonwealth Bank of Australia takes a closer look at Africa.

A months-long divestment push of Peters Ice Cream appears set to end with a sale to France’s R&R for close to $450 million. While no confirmation has been delivered by owner Pacific Equity Partners, it is widely believed R&R has entered final negotiations at the same time a planned IPO has been cancelled.

The strong appetite for any dairy-related assets in Australia was always going to ensure plenty of interest in a trade sale despite PEP pursuing a dual-track sales process. That appetite should see a healthy profit of close to $200m for PEP after it outbid rivals (possibly including R&R) with a $250m play for the ice cream maker back in 2012.

Still, the rising IPO market would no doubt have presented a similarly profitable return for PEP, as highlighted by the private equity firm’s float of Spotless Group. The catering firm has successfully completed the largest IPO on the ASX this year, raising $994.6m towards the bottom end of the pricing range. Spotless, which last traded on the ASX in 2012, will rejoin the market today and given the float was heavily oversubscribed, a positive initial reception is likely.

Also in the IPO market, PAS Group has raised $120m through a float. Current owners in the fashion retailer and wholesaler -- Propel InvestmentsMacquarie Private Equity and State Super -- will retain a stake of 15 per cent post-listing on June 18. Elsewhere, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are preparing for a $500m float of retirement property landlord RetireAustralia in September, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Meanwhile, Woodside Petroleum has distanced itself from talk it may make a bid for PNG-focussed Oil Search, saying assets in PNG are fully priced. The firm did confirm, however, that acquisitions were on the cards provided they fall within the $1 billion to $5bn range. Incidentally, such a range would leave the $13bn Oil Search well out of reach, but interest from other energy giants in Oil Search wouldn’t shock.

In finance, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is mulling a purchase in Africa as local banks continue to explore avenues for growth outside Australia, according to the AFR. The paper listed Standard BankNedbank and Barclays Africa Group, in which UK giant Barclays maintains a 62 per cent stake, as possible targets. However, South Africa’s FirstRand would appear a more likely entry point given Standard, Nedbank and Barclays Africa all have major shareholders that may be unwilling to sell.

Closer to home, an independent analysis of the $2.1 billion takeover of David Jones has established the deal to be “fair and reasonable”. Grant Samuel suggested shareholders accept the offer from South Africa’s Woolworths in the absence of a superior offer. Given DJs’ struggles in recent years, few could argue with that advice.

Finally, Caltex Australia has received the green light from the ACCC for its proposed purchase of the fuel division of Scotts Group provided it sells four fuel sites in South Australia and Victoria. The $95m deal was announced by Caltex in February.