DataRoom AM: Scentre’s NZ shake-up

Scentre Group mulls a partial divestment of its New Zealand portfolio, while Seven Group lands a stake in Woodside Petroleum.

Recent Westfield spinoff Scentre Group may have tried to quell recent speculation of a sale of its New Zealand operations, but it appears a partial divestment of its $2.6 billion NZ portfolio is still in the works.

Elsewhere, Seven Group makes a play for Woodside Petroleum stock, bidders line up for Apache Energy’s Wheatstone stake and the timing of the Medibank Private IPO becomes clearer.

Scentre Group is discussing the sale of half of its $2.6 billion New Zealand portfolio with suitors Government Investment Corporation of Singapore and Canadian pension fund PSP, though a float on the New Zealand Exchange is also believed to be under consideration. If a deal proceeds, it is tipped to include a 50 per cent stake in nine Westfield-branded centres across the Tasman.

UBS and JPMorgan have both been linked to advisory roles on a potential sale, with a dual listing on the ASX -- should it go down the IPO route -- a possibility.

Also in property, LaSalle Investment Management’s 25 per cent shareholding in ANZ’s Sydney headquarters has been placed on the market, with a deal likely to reap markedly more than the $200m recouped by Grocon when it sold a 25 per cent stake in the building two years ago.

Meanwhile, Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group has again expanded its energy assets, recently claiming a $100 million stake in Woodside Petroleum, according to The Australian Financial Review. The deal was completed back in June when Shell sold down its position to the tune of 10 per cent, but has only just come to light. The deal reportedly raised eyebrows at Woodside given Seven boss Don Voelte is a former head of Woodside, but Seven has reassured the WA energy giant its shareholding is passive and there is no plan to ruffle feathers.

Also in energy, the divestment of Apache Energy’s $2bn stake in the Wheatstone LNG project has drawn plenty of interest despite its small size potentially being a turn off to industry heavyweights. Heading the list of suitors, according to the AFR, are PetronasWoodsidePetroChinaKuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company and IPIC.

A deal is expected before year’s end.

Also wrapping up before the end of the year will be the federal government’s sale of Medibank Private, with the biggest IPO since 2010 now pencilled in for December. The prospectus for the $4bn float will be released in October as the nation’s IPO boom continues, with this year’s floats raising the most since 2005, according to Bloomberg data.

In other privatisation news, the Queensland government has named Merrill Lynch and Macquarie Capital as advisers for electricity distributors Powerlink, Ergon Energy and Energex, while Lazard will assist with the divestment of generators CS Energy and Stanwell. Macquarie will also aid with the sale of long-term leases for the ports of Gladstone and Townsville and RBC Capital Markets has been called on to advise on the sale of industrial pipelines at SunWater.

In aviation, Virgin Australia has offloaded 35 per cent of its Velocity frequent flyer scheme to fund manager Affinity Equity Partners for $336m. The deal comes in the wake of rival Qantas opting to forego a similar money raising opportunity as both major domestic airlines seek to shore up the balance sheets in the wake of an intense capacity fight. Virgin’s deal will be wrapped up by the end of October provided it receives approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Offshore, National Australia Bank has made progress in simplifying its portfolio, announcing plans to list its US subsidiary as part of a plan to refocus on the Australian and NZ markets. The bank will sell a minority stake in Great Western Bank through an IPO in the last quarter of 2014, ahead of what will be a full divestment in coming years.

Takeover target Treasury Wine Estates has hinted it will soon receive a bid it will be able to take directly to shareholders, warning it may delay its October 30 AGM if it can combine the meeting with a shareholder vote on a deal. Both KRR and TPG are currently pursuing due diligence and while a final bid is expected, there is limited confidence in a bidding war as TWE’s share price remains 2 per cent below the indicative offers of the two suitors.

Finally, Telstra has finalised a joint venture agreement with Telekom Indonesia that will result in the Australian telco’s enterprise services being offered in southeast Asia, while Noni B has warned its strategic review may not lead to a sale as its finances continue to take a hit.