DataRoom AM: Positive energy

A number of big names are sniffing around Apache Energy’s local assets, while TPG Telecom buys into Vocus and Amcom's merger talks.

Plenty of interest surrounds the local assets of US-based Apache Energy as Woodside Petroleum and a number of big names circle amid a well-publicised auction process.

Elsewhere, TPG Telecom makes a bold foray into the midst of merger talks between Amcom and Vocus, Macquarie Group secures a win in Queensland and Super Retail is the subject of heavy M&A speculation.

Woodside Petroleum reportedly remains interested in Apache Energy’s $2.5 billion-plus Wheatstone LNG stake in WA as well as its position in Kitimat LNG in Canada, with competition expected to come from Singapore’s Pavilion Energy. Woodside is tipped by The Australian Financial Review to be seeking a bundle of assets in any deal, with Apache’s 65 per cent position in the Balnaves oil venture in WA a possible addition to Kitimat and Wheatstone.

Seven Group and Fortescue Metals Group, meanwhile, are believed to be interested in Apache’s domestic gas business.

Also in energy, Thailand’s PTTEP is struggling to find a buyer for its $1.5bn Montara oilfield, off the coast of northwest Australia. KKR and Santos have reportedly kicked the tyres on a deal, but no firm bids have surfaced.

In telecommunications, TPG Telecom has made a surprise move into the thick of merger talks between Vocus and Amcom after lifting its stake in the latter to 5.4 per cent. The TPG jostling, according to the AFR, has impacted the merger discussions after Vocus and Amcom were believed almost ready to detail terms for the $1.1bn tie-up this week. Comments from TPG suggest the firm is just chasing a profit, but there takeover rumours remain viable.

In infrastructure, Macquarie Group has won the day on a planned sale of BrisConnections’ AirportLink M7 toll road in Brisbane, with a deal postponed indefinitely, the AFR reports. Macquarie, which is the firm’s biggest debt holder, had been keen to delay a sale as it wanted to wait on improved traffic numbers.

There’s more excitement with the planned sale of the $1bn Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney as AMP and Britain’s John Laing headline a group of four shortlisted suitors. AMP remains the favourite, while the identities of the other two rivals remain a mystery.

Meanwhile, investment banks are banging on the door of Pacific Equity Partners as the firm reportedly weighs the divestment of its $930m stake in Spotless Group. According to theAFR, a block trade of part of the holding could be made in coming months despite an escrow agreement that prevents a full divestment until FY2015 results are released.

Super Retail’s rough year has reportedly drawn some predators out of the shadows, with talk of giant sports retailer Intersport and Britain’s Sports Direct making approaches to the ASX-listed firm’s shareholders. Super Retail, the owner of Rebel Sport, played down the speculation after investors pushed the firm’s stock 12 per cent higher yesterday. The AFRreported Sports Direct as the most interested party, though its approach may already be on ice.

In insurance, the last government-owned insurance company is set to go under the hammer this year after the NT government warned of ‘liquidity issues’ with TIO that should see it sold off quickly. Final offers for the business will be considered next week.

In the IPO market, real estate marketing website PropertyGuru has delayed its planned $500m float until next year, according to the AFR, as tech listings begin to lose their lustre amid a broad field of IPO candidates.

It comes as another IPO candidate has officially entered the scene, with China’s Bright Food confirming it will make a run at ASX boards with Manassen Foods. As much as 30 per cent of the firm could be offloaded through the float, though no timeline or pricing details have emerged.

In property, Westfield offshoot Scentre has made a widely anticipated move to trim its NZ assets, offloading a 49 per cent stake in five shopping centres for $940m to Singapore’s GIC.

Elsewhere, Ten Network has confirmed it has appointed Citi to assess with ‘strategic options’, which is a roundabout way of saying ‘we are considering selling out’. Offers from suitors are likely to be requested by the end of this month.

Finally, food manufacturer Green’s Foods will kick off pre-IPO roadshows next week ahead of its planned $47m listing in December, while Lonsec has purchased the online research arm of van Eyk from administrators for an undisclosed sum.

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