DataRoom AM: Ten's takeover drama

The battle for Ten Network takes another twist, while Asian investors are believed to be sizing up Alinta Energy.

Over the past couple of months it’s been rare to have a week without a twist in the ongoing Ten takeover saga and this week is no different as major shareholder Bruce Gordon shakes up the auction process.

Elsewhere, Asian suitors circle Alinta Energy, RP Data quells speculation it will make a play for several state-owned assets, Monde Nissin is linked to a purchase of juice maker Nudie and Archer Capital preps Healthe Care for a sale or float.

Key Ten Network shareholder Bruce Gordon has reportedly retained his stance against recent takeover offers for the struggling media group and is now making arrangements to put forward a proposal of his own. The news leaves the leading 23c-a-share offer from Discovery Communications and Foxtel in limbo as Ten’s share price falls back to levels around 20c.

Like Foxtel, the WIN Corp owner’s hands are tied on how much he can own due to media concentration laws, but while he can’t legally increase his 14.9 per cent stake, Gordon may be able to increase control of the company through a complex debt deal. One scenario likely to be put to Ten’s independent directors shortly involves Gordon either claiming full responsibility for a $200m loan guarantee already in place or issuing new convertible notes in exchange for funding.

In energy, the $3 billion-$4bn sale of Alinta Energy has captured the attention of Asian-based groups Malakoff and Keppel Infrastructure Trust, according to Bloomberg. Malakoff, which may launch a joint bid with Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund, has history in the Australian energy sector having bought into AGL Energy’s giant Macarthur wind farm in 2013.

The auction of the TPG Capital-owned Alinta remains in its early stages, but could also draw offers from local firms AGL, Origin EnergyEnergyAustralia as well as Japan’s Marubeni.

Meanwhile, RP Data has calmed speculation it will make a play for state assets amid a privatisation spree from governments across the country. The real estate information provider has been linked to NSW and Victorian land titles office assets as well as ASIC’s corporate register, but has denied interest in any potential auction of the assets. Veda and SAI Global have been listed as other logical buyers of ASIC operations.

In healthcare, Archer Capital is tipped to chase a trade sale or IPO of hospital operator Healthe Care in 2015. The divestment is rumoured given recent successful healthcare floats on the ASX, with Archer ready to cash in its chips after four years of ownership, according to The Australian Financial Review.

In the food and beverage sector, it is well known that Monde Nissin is nearing a $55 million deal for Menora Foods, but it might not be the only local action for the acquisitive Philippines-based group. It’s been reported that juice company Nudie was sold to offshore interests around Christmas and Monde is speculated as the likely buyer.

Elsewhere, Boral has tapped advisory group Gresham to divest its hardwood timber business, the AFR reports. An auction of the non-core division is seen unlikely to draw enough interest for Boral to receive more than its $100m book value.

Finally, insurer QBE has offloaded its US agency business for over $350m, while majority shareholders in the nation’s largest independent owner of mobile towers -- Crown Castle Australia -- are heading for the exit, according to the AFR. In all, around 22 per cent may be up for grabs, with the stake likely valued at close to $400m.

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