DataRoom AM: Rinehart's Fairfax vision

Gina Rinehart is reportedly mulling a takeover of Fairfax, while James Packer teams up with a Chinese heavy-hitter to bid for the rights to a new casino in Brisbane.

Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, is believed to be increasingly impatient with developments at Fairfax Media and it mightn’t be long until there are developments on her 15 per cent stake.

Elsewhere, James Packer takes a leaf out of Echo Entertainment’s book in Brisbane, speculation over Archer Daniels Midland’s Australian activities reignites and Asciano confirms its Patrick Logistics division could be partially hived off.

Gina Rinehart is reportedly on the lookout for a suitable leadership team at Fairfax Media in case a decision is made to press on with a takeover. It is believed that Rinehart, who is Fairfax’s largest shareholder with a 14.99 per cent stake, has sought advice from business associates on possible names to be added to the leadership team, with chair Roger Corbett and chief executive Greg Hywood considered unlikely to stay on should a buyout move be pursued by Rinehart.

Jeff Kennett was named as a possible option, however he turned down an approach to join the board two years ago and is unlikely to reconsider. In the meantime, it is expected Rinehart will either exit her stake or chase a purchase should the media group’s performance not improve soon. 

Rinehart isn’t the only rich lister making waves, with James Packer hitting the headlines after Crown Resorts formed a consortium with China’s Greenland Investments to bid for the hotly contested rights to a new casino in Brisbane. The news is a direct response to local rival Echo Entertainment, which many analysts thought crept into pole position for the new licence after teaming with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium last month. After four groups were shortlisted by the Queensland government in May, there are now just the two aforementioned consortiums in the running.

Meanwhile, speculation is once again swirling about Archer Daniels Midland’s Australian interest after the firm’s chief executive Patricia Woertz visited Sydney last week. Just eight months after seeing a $3.4 billion move on GrainCorp get shot down by Treasurer Joe HockeyThe Australian Financial Review reports the US firm may be interested in raising its 19.9 per cent stake to 24.9 per cent or perhaps testing the waters on a fresh takeover approach. The latter, however, seems improbable for at least another year or two.

In the IPO market, Hong Kong-based Speedcast will hit ASX boards next month, according to The Australian Financial Review, after raising $150m from investors. The satellite business, which has iiNet founder Michael Malone on its board, will join the exchange with a market value of over $230m.

Elsewhere, Asciano has confirmed it is mulling the sale of a stake in its Patrick Terminals business after reports emerged it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with China Merchants Group. It is believed that talks are currently at an impasse as Asciano is unwilling to offload more than 49 per cent of the division.

Finally, Stanhill Capital Partners has lifted its takeover proposal for Robust Resources by 12 per cent, to $61.5m. It comes as Robust proceeds with a reverse takeover of Mentum Inc in the pursuit of a listing on the Alternative Investment Market in London.

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