DataRoom AM: Power struggle

Macquarie Generation may not carry the price NSW is hoping for, while Bernie Brookes stamps out suggestions of a revised DJs pitch.

Bids for the New South Wales state-owned Macquarie Generation are due today, with two local firms set to challenge a Japanese trading behemoth. A three-way duel is a good sign, but does the state government have any chance of reaching its $2 billion goal?

Elsewhere, Myer Holdings rules out another David Jones offer, bankers jostle to advise on a possible Healthscope float, BP ignores speculation of Australian asset sales, the share price of Treasury Wine Estates may tempt a suitor out of the woodwork and Fairfax Media gets into bed with Ten Network Holdings.

Marubeni Corp, a major Japanese trading company, is today expected to place a final bid for the NSW government-owned Macquarie Generation, facing off against local contenders ERM Power and AGL Energy. The government is hoping for $2 billion from the sale, though a figure near $1.5 billion is more likely given softness in electricity demand.

Today’s bid deadline comes the same day as the ACCC will announce its view on AGL’s proposal. A final decision may be forthcoming, though a statement of issues appears more likely. ERM has already received the all-clear.

Myer Holdings boss Bernie Brookes appears to have ruled out the prospect of a revised offer for David Jones with assertions its bid is “dead and buried”. Despite the strong comments, he confirmed Myer would negotiate should David Jones attempt to engage.

TPG and The Carlyle Group will open their doors to investment bankers today as they look to choose three lead advisors for a potential $4 billion float of Healthscope. Macquarie Capital is seen as one frontrunner with a decision due Friday, according to the AFR.

British oil giant BP Plc did not discuss speculation of a sale of its Australian downstream assets on an earnings call overnight, instead outlining plans to update on strategy on March 4. The market was hoping for some news amid suggestions BP would follow Royal Dutch Shell in pursuing a $3 billion divestment of its petrol retail and refining assets.

Fairfax Media and Ten Network Holdings are in discussions to merge their dating websites, according to The Australian Financial Review. Talks are reportedly in their early stages, with one idea floated being a merger and consequent IPO of Oasis Active, 40 per cent owned by Ten, and the wholly Fairfax-owned RSVP.

Archer Daniels Midland has signalled it will retain its 20 per cent stake in GrainCorp in the near-term, blowing hopes of bankers for an imminent block trade. The US grains giant was left holding the stake after the Australian government blocked its takeover bid.

Treasury Wine Estates has a new major shareholder, with American asset manager Wellington Management Company spending $25 million to lift its stake to 5.73 per cent. Treasury has long been viewed as a takeover target though speculation has run dry of late. Still, its share price is now at levels last seen two years ago and perhaps Wellington is hoping this will force a suitor out of the shadows.

Also in wine, Nufarm boss Doug Rathbone will merge his wine distribution company, Four Seasons Fine Wines, with Grant Burge’s local distribution division, Vignerons of the World.

Finally, Newcrest Mining has pushed back against approaches to offload its 32 per cent stake in fellow gold miner Evolution Mining, preferring to hang onto its shareholding, according to the AFR.

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