DataRoom AM: Stokes energised

Kerry Stokes takes a slice of Beach Energy, while Canada's Borealis Infrastructure prepares to battle it out for ASIC's registry business, despite there being no confirmation the government will press ahead with the sale.

Slumping oil prices have tempted Kerry Stokes to take another step into the energy industry with a stake in Beach Energy.

Meanwhile, Macquarie has already been drawn into the race for ASIC's registry business, even though a decision from the Department of Finance isn’t expected until next month. Also, audits could complicate the Vocation turnaround plans.

Seven Group Holdings looks to be moving beyond its $200 million Nexus Energy pick up, with the Kerry Stokes-led group purchasing a stake in the recently battered Beach Energy yesterday.

Seven went through UBS and Deutsche Bank to grab the parcel. Stokes appears to be capitalising on the falling oil price, which has helped knock 50 per cent off the value off Beach since June last year.

The Department of Finance won’t make a decision on the potential $4 billion sale of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s registry business until next month.

However, the AFR reports Macquarie Capital has already been hired by Canada’s Borealis Infrastructure on its options should the government decide to go ahead with the sale.

In education, the asset sale and merger plans of beleaguered Vocation could be in trouble thanks to ongoing audits from the Australian Skills Quality Authority. Further hits to the company’s reputation would have to be accounted for in any deal.

Yesterday, it was expected that a deal of some sort would be a matter of weeks away, but with the corporate regulator’s investigation into the company’s conduct stretching into a fourth month, the picture is getting more complicated.

Meanwhile, the Australian Taxation Office has made a hurried attempt to freeze over $80m in proceeds from the sale of Nudie Juice to Philippines-based Monde Nissin with an application in the Federal Court.

Westpac Banking Corporation is offloading its bank arm in Samoa, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga in order to focus more on Fiji and Papua New Guinea, which are more lucrative.

Canaccord Genuity has opened the door on a $132m capital raising for Asian casino company Donaco International, according to the AFR.

In IPO news, large-cap floats, especially in the healthcare industry are tipped to continue leading the way, according to the latest HLB Mann Judd IPO watch report, but smaller companies will struggle.

The AFR reports intellectual property law could be the next IPO hotspot, following Spurson and Ferguson’s successful launch. The newspaper reports IP and patent law firms Davies Collison Cave and Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick have sought external advice, while Griffith Hack is keeping an eye on developments without getting advice “yet”.

Deal activity in the renewable space has dried up thanks to policy uncertainty, according to Power and Renewables Deals: 2015 outlook and 2014 review from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report says four deals were done in the first half of 2014, while only one solitary agreement was sealed in the second half of the year.

And finally, the world’s greatest US political junkies, the Koch Brothers, were secret partners in a private equity consortium bidding for Bradken before the pitch for the US mining services company keeled over last week, the AFR reports.

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