DataRoom AM: Rinehart ambition

Gina Rinehart may still be mulling a play for Fairfax Media, while the sale of SAI Global is in doubt.

Gina Rinehart’s intentions for her stake in Fairfax Media are again the subject of much conjecture as details of a takeover push two years ago emerge. But is the mining magnate still interested?

Elsewhere, a successful auction of SAI Global looks less likely, merger talks between Macquarie Radio and Fairfax Radio could be back on and the end of year rush in the IPO market kicks up another gear.

Rich-lister Gina Rinehart allegedly held talks with former Murdoch Magazines owner Matt Handbury, a nephew of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch, about a possible play for control of Fairfax Media two years ago. While no bid ever eventuated, Rinehart is still considered to be weighing a takeover play at some point. Though an offer is not expected anytime soon there are growing concerns at Fairfax about the mining magnate’s intentions.

Also in media, the lines of communication between John Singleton’s Macquarie Radio and Fairfax Radio have been opened once again, according to The Australian Financial Review, potentially leading to fresh merger discussions. Given numerous false starts on the $200 million merger, you’ll excuse this column’s scepticism on the likelihood of a deal.

Meanwhile, speculation suggests SAI Global’s suitors are reluctant to bid for the $1 billion-plus group due to a rushed process and concerns over the firm’s lucrative contract with Standards Australia. Original bidder Pacific Equity Partners may drop out altogether, along with JV partner KKR, while The Carlyle Group is also questionable to put in an offer when final bids fall due on Friday.

The news comes as the AFR publishes speculation that Standards Australia, which owned SAI prior to its 2003 listing, has made a late bid for control of its publishing licensing agreement business, which is at the centre of the contract noise.

In infrastructure, BG Group has developed a shortlist of bidders for its $3bn-plus gas pipeline assets in Queensland, according to the AFR. The list is largely as expected with Cheung Kong InfrastructureAPA Group, a consortium including Hastings Funds Management and a group led by Canada’s Enbridge believed to be in the running.

In the IPO market, Victorian homebuilding giant Simonds Group has tapped Moelis & Co and Morgans to support its run to ASX boards before the end of the year. The AFR reports that a float could value the company at $300m and fund an expansion across the country.

Huon Aquaculture is also weighing a $400m float before the end of the year, while Crescent Capital Partners is looking to retain a 16 per cent stake in garage door maker ArcPac when it lists on the ASX next month, according to the AFR. ArcPac is hoping to raise $115m-plus in the IPO.

Elsewhere, Regis Aged Care is tipped to raise close to $500m through its upcoming float, leading to a $1bn-plus valuation.

Finally, hedge fund Coastal Capital has likely reduced its Billabong stake by 2 per cent through a $13.6m block trade, according to the AFR.